Construction-related closures on Wharncliffe Road South have drawn the ire of mayoral candidate Paul Paoloatto, who is criticizing London for not including business owners earlier in their decision-making processes.
“I think that’s a mistake,” Paolatto said Wednesday morning.
“We chronically talk about talking to Indigenous peoples, the heritage folks, to police, to fire, to schools. We talk to residents. But we don’t talk to businesses.”
If elected mayor, Paolatto said he’d revisit a decision to close the major road for five months and try to accommodate businesses owners. Speaking at Forest City Tirecraft on Wharncliffe Road, and surrounded by concerned small business owners, Paolatto also announced a “pledge.”
“I pledge to always be mindful and grateful for the business investment to our city,” he said.
“I pledge to routinely seek out and share information, ideas, and feedback.”
The five-part pledge to small business owners also includes commitments to proactively consult businesses on civic matters, to respect businesses and help make them successful, and to celebrate them. Voters go to the polls on Oct 22.
But for Nancy Jackson, an owner and operator of Forest City Tirecraft, concerns about the closure aren’t just related to her ability to turn a profit.
“The amount of emergency response vehicles I see go down this street? I’m seriously concerned about what rationale would be used to close Wharncliffe,” she said.
Rerouting emergency vehicles and other traffic on Wonderland Road or through Wortley Village are not good alternatives, Jackson said.
“London … is challenged with traffic as it is, with a poor and underdeveloped transit system, no ring roads, no express roads. These are decisions the city is living with today. No, you must keep our arteries open.”
According to city reports, 30,000 to 35,000 cars travel the Wharncliffe Road corridor everyday. The $39-million road widening and bridge replacement project will include expanding Wharncliffe Road between Becher Street and Springbank Drive to four lanes from two.
Construction is slated to begin in 2021.