Some businesses located on King St. West are struggling to cope with the changes that come with the project that helps traffic by forcing cars to turn at every block.

Toronto’s city council implemented the King St. West Transit pilot project November 2017. The project runs on King St. West from Bathurst St. to Jarvis St. City council’s goal of the project is to reduce traffic by restricting private vehicles from entering intersections, forcing them to turn.

However, while the project has been proven to increase transit riders, it has impacted the foot-traffic of local businesses according to local restaurant owners.

Some local business owners say their stores are being negatively affected by the project. Some say they’re down as much as 15 per cent in profit since the project began, says a local take-out business owner Robert Garabedian.

Garabedian, owner of Maki My Way located on King St. West, says his take-out store is seeing less business now than in its past. “In the first few months customers didn’t know if they could even walk on the street.”

“If they continue this project, restaurants will start closing.” – Robert Garabedian

Toronto City Council has made efforts to help bring some business back to the local stores by offering parking near King St. West at a discounted price, and $15 food vouchers for businesses on King Street, says Garabedian.

“The vouchers were really good, I would love for them to do that again. A lot of people came and realized where we are,” says Garabedian.

Maki My Way first opened its doors four years ago. Garabedian says before then business was great.

Garabedian has some additional suggestions for the council that might help minimize the affect the project has on businesses. He says eliminating left turns and adding restrictions during weeknights and weekends would be beneficial to the businesses. This is because he finds the street not busy around those times.

Al Carbone, owner of The Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill, is known for his strong opinion against the project. He made his thoughts public a few weeks back when he put a large ice sculpture of a middle-finger outside his restaurant.

Carbone owns a sit-down style restaurant rather than a take out like Maki My Way. He’s sitting at the front table, quickly eating his salad between his meetings, while he talked about the project. He says his business has lost about 50 per cent of his business since the project began.

“People have avoided this area like the plague, it’s true.”- Al Carbone

While Carbone wants the project to end but says in the meantime something needs to be done to increase business now.

At a meeting held for King Street business owners by John Tory, Carbone gave some suggestion on how to better the project for businesses. “We asked them for certain restrictions and for parking back on the street,” he says. However, he has not heard anything back from the Toronto city council about these suggestions.

The project is in Toronto ward 20. Joe Cressy, city councillor declined an interview with GH360.

Mike Layton, Toronto city councillor of Ward 19, which covers King Street from Dovercourt road to Bathhurst Street, was able to discuss this project.

Layton says, “if you’re a transit rider, you’re pretty supportive of the project. On the other side, there are some businesses within the area that have complained about a lack of parking in the community.”

Layton believes the businesses are not suffering financially as a result of fewer parking spaces.

Some business owners, like Carbone, suggest running the project on weekdays only.

Layton says, “when you start to give exemptions during some time, what you end up actually doing is confusing people more.”

Layton says this summer they will bring back street parking. He hopes this will drive more pedestrian traffic into businesses.