Metrolinx has pulled an about-face and decided against closing a section of Bathurst Street for seven months following an outcry from residents and businesses in the affected area.
Last month, the provincial transit agency proposed closing Bathurst one block north of Eglinton in order to speed up work on Forest Hill Station, one of 25 stops on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
That plan didn’t sit well with area councillors and frustrated business owners, who say business is down at least 50 per cent since construction began in the Forest Hill neighbourhood.
“Closure? That’s way too much for us,” said local business owner Lita Quinto. “We have been suffering since 2017. Why would they come here when it takes forever. It’s so bad.”
Councillor Josh Matlow called it a “bad idea from the start” adding Metrolinx simply assumed they would get the green light for this closure from the city.
“They made the announcement before they even had a permit in their hands,” said Matlow.
“What the community wants is for the project to be completed and they want to get their lives back. They’ve also said very clearly that the trade-off of three months simply to save work on the intersection isn’t worth seven months of a closure that would have such a horrible effect on their daily lives.”
NDP MPP Jill Andrew has been an outspoken critic since this construction began.
“First of all, our constiuents in Toronto-St. Paul’s are just very frustrated with the way the process unfolded,” said Andrew. “What we require is more consultation, better consultation with the community and with small businesses that are impacted.”
Ahead of a planned town hall meeting on Wednesday night, Metrolinx issued a statement saying it was withdrawing their application.
“We acknowledge we could have done a better job engaging the community and the councillors,” read the statement. “While closing Bathurst Street would have accelerated construction of Forest Hill Station by three months, we understand the community did not feel this benefit outweighed the impacts on area residents and business owners.”
“We know that construction can be disruptive and we will continue to work very hard with Crosslinx to minimize the impacts.”
Metrolinx says even without the planned closure, the project remains on schedule and the current disruptive work in the area will be greatly reduced by the end of 2019.