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Struggling business owners consider legal action against Metrolinx

Last Updated Mar 7, 2017 at 11:35 pm EST

It’s been a tough go for business owners on the front lines of crosstown construction.

Several stores along Eglinton Avenue between Mount Pleasant and Bathurst have been forced to shut down, others are hanging on by a thread.

Those suffering the most are stores that are pretty much caged in by fencing with limited pedestrian access. Some of the struggling owners are now considering legal action against Metrolinx to try and balance their bleeding bank accounts.

David Bakhshi, who has owned Royal Antique Rugs near Oriole Parkway for 11 years, now says it’s only a matter of time before he goes bankrupt.

“There is no business at all, nobody walks,” Bakhshi tells CityNews.

“I would say business is down 90 even 95 percent. it’s a dying business.”

Closer to Yonge Street, new detours went up today making it more difficult for pedestrians to navigate the area. Wendy Yu, who operates the eatery Fit For Life, says rent keeps going up and revenue keep going down.

“It’s been horrible. I know three stores that have closed in this area,” she said.

One of recent casualties of Crosstown Construction is Vera’s Kitchen, the ma-and-pa Russian café that’s been serving the people of midtown for more than 2 decades.

Lawyer Jeff Goldstien is representing a couple of business owners in the area and says many of these struggling shops have a solid case to recoup some of their financial losses under the Expropriations Act.

“When a person’s property is expropriated directly such as land taken by public works then you are paid for value of your land, but when land is not taken like business owners in these cases you are still entitled to compensation.”

The claim would be made directly to Metrolinx and the process is governed by the Ontario Municipal Board, but you would have to prove your lost revenue as a direct result of the crosstown construction.

“Not every business owner qualifies. The business owner who is not affected by direct construction outside and see’s decline may not be as successful as the one right behind fence with poor visibility with access is severely restricted,” Goldstein said.

In a statement to CityNews, Metrolinx outlined what it is doing to help ease the impact of this massive project.

  • We work very closely with the City of Toronto, Toronto Police Service, Toronto Parking Authority, local businesses and BIAs to minimize the construction impacts as much as possible, including: Working with the City to relax off-street parking restrictions when parking spots along Eglinton have been eliminated due to construction, ensuring area businesses maintain access to their buildings and entrances, the “Experience Eglinton” campaign — which lets customers know Eglinton Avenue remains open for business during construction and encourages residents and consumers to shop locally.
  •  Metrolinx does not provide compensation to businesses who remain open during construction in spite of their proximity to the areas under construction.