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One councillor's pitch to help Eglinton businesses during Crosstown construction

Coun. Josh Colle hopes measures like free parking in some spots and even small loans could help offset losses during construction.

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Eglinton Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road.

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File / Torstar News Service

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Eglinton Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road.

Nuit Blanche stops, more restaurants on Uber Eats, even free parking — these are just a few of Coun. Josh Colle's ideas to make life easier for businesses during construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

The Ward 15 councillor's motion recommending the city study such measures was approved by council last week. The city manager will report back on feasibility in December and reach out to Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions on actions that would involve them.

"We've got to get the message out there to everyone — to the world, so to speak — that Eglinton's still open," Colle told Metro.

Colle's pitch includes everything from small loans for impacted businesses to offering free or subsidized registration for Winterlicious and Summerlicious events to restaurants on Eglinton Avenue.

The Crosstown LRT is expected to open in 2021; Colle predicts that means at least two to three years of construction at street level.

He hopes some of the measures to offset businesses losses might also work in other areas grappling with big infrastructure projects in the city.

"I think we need to look at construction impacts differently," he said, adding the cost for such programs could be built into the projects. "It's important to make sure there's still good will for major infrastructure projects by putting in place tools that help support businesses throughout the process."

John Ferrari, owner of Eglinton clothing store Latina Ltd., applauds Colle's initiative. He called the construction "excessive" and lamented a lack of accessibility for customers with wheelchairs, scooters and walkers.

York-Eglinton BIA co-ordinator Aadila Valiallah wrote in an email to Metro that she was very happy to see the motion, as businesses are suffering.

"More than anything, I hope it brings people to Eglinton because people are currently avoiding Eglinton," Valiallah wrote.

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