January 17, 2019 12:56 am
Updated: January 17, 2019 1:04 am

Metrolinx cancels plan to close Bathurst near Eglinton after public backlash

Hundreds of people showed up at a town hall to debate closing Bathurst north of Eglinton for LRT construction, just as Metrolinx had announced a reversal of the proposal. Kamil Karamali reports.

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Hundreds of people showed up to a town hall — at the Beth Tzedec synagogue Wednesday night — that was expected to be an anger-fueled affair, allowing crosstown residents to aim their ire at Metrolinx and its proposal to close off a section of Bathurst Street entirely for seven months, just north of Eglinton Avenue.

But hours before the meeting, the agency backtracked on the proposal to shut down that busy stretch, citing public backlash and a lack of community consultation.

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READ MORE: Toronto councillor to help businesses affected by construction near the Eglinton Crosstown

“We thought there was a benefit to that closure, but it wasn’t something the community was ready to accept,” said Metrolinx spokesperson, Jamie Robinson.

“We didn’t do a good job on this. We didn’t engage the community as we should’ve.”

“I did think [Metrolinx] would pull back because I’ve never seen such outrage with such agreement from people of all walks of life that this was a dumb thing to thrust upon people of the middle of Toronto,” said Eglinton-Lawrence councillor Mike Colle.

Metrolinx said the closure would’ve sped up the construction on the Forest Hill station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT by three months.

The project has already been delayed. Originally scheduled to open in 2020, it’s now been postponed to 2021.

READ MORE: Free parking offered to help businesses affected by Eglinton Crosstown construction 

Meanwhile, businesses along Eglinton and Bathurst near the intersection also seem to be rejoicing. Many of them had complained about the construction already impacting their bottom line — and said the proposal to close a stretch of Bathurst would prove to be even more difficult.

“People are finding it very problematic to dodge all the traffic,” said Varad Gadtil, assistant manager at the Great Maratha Indian restaurant.

“If it had completely shut down, I don’t even think they would bother to walk over here or drive or whatever. [Now] we still have hope that people will come in and we’ll still have few tables at least.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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