How Toronto’s Crosstown light rail transit system is moving forward to support businesses and communities

We’ve brought you a lot of stories and images as the Crosstown LRT route is making progress. But we wanted to take a moment to stretch out into the communities, to talk about actions and support for local enterprises that continue to do business as the route is being built.

The route of any great transit system isn’t just defined by the line of rails stretching ahead.

It actually spreads out into the community, from every stop and station, even before the first passenger steps aboard.

While construction crews are busy working to engineer and construct Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) line, teams are also working to help support residents, nearby institutions and local businesses during construction.

Image shows the front of Randy's take-out
Local flavour – There are a lot of great shops and businesses along the Crosstown route. Here’s the home of the delicious Randy’s patties, Randy’s Take-Out is located at Oakwood and Eglinton. (Metrolinx photo)

Construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT system has impacted neighbourhoods differently along the corridor. Combined with other factors, such as future developments and the COVID-19 pandemic, impacts to local businesses have intensified.

So this is how the assistance works.

By working closely with local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), local neighbourhood groups and the City of Toronto, the team has been able to understand how they can work together to provide solutions to help support these businesses.

Image shows a list of local businesses

The Ontario government has pledged an additional $3M to fund marketing and promotion of businesses impacted by LRT construction along Eglinton Avenue. This new funding has the potential to provide:

  • A direct funding contribution to the City of Toronto’s Black Business and Professionals Council Advisory Body, designated to support the applicable business community impacted by the construction along Eglinton Avenue
  • Additional funds to support BIA marketing initiatives
  • An increase to the direct, one-to-one individual business supports offered to help with the development of marketing and promotional ideas and help augment businesses in the eastern portion of the line where there is no BIA representation.
  • A direct funding contribution to the City of Toronto’s Economic Development department toward the expansion of the City’s existing business support programs.

On top of these additions, Metrolinx will continue its ongoing support with businesses through procuring social enterprises such as Building Up – which runs pre-apprenticeship trades training – for help with window cleaning, parking support, community outreach, shop local marketing initiatives and signage and advertising.

Image shows a sign pointing to local businesses
The Experience Eglinton campaign encourages customers to shop along Eglinton Avenue during LRT construction. (Metrolinx image)

Metrolinx will also work with the City of Toronto to enhance efforts to ensure clean and clear streets as construction progresses on the new stations and stops.

There continues to be many significant milestones reached on the Crosstown LRT construction, and more to be seen as the line takes shape.

But the success isn’t just about the stretch of LRT tracks – it’ll be about the lines that reach out to support communities that it serves, even as it’s being built.

Story by Erika D’Urbano, Metrolinx senior advisor, Rapid Transit.