Construction on Kingston – again

Heading into a third consecutive summer of  Kingston Road construction, Norm Spence says it’s a matter of short-term pain for long-term gain.

“It’s one of those necessary things,” said Spence, president of the business community association for Kingston Road Village.

“The upside of it is we’re going to get a whole new streetscape by the city.”

Starting on June 23, traffic on Kingston Road will be restricted to one eastbound lane between Queen Street East to Victoria Park Avenue as crews install new streetcar tracks, new sections of roadway and new sidewalks. The work is scheduled to finish by Dec. 22.

Spence said the work means business owners with storefronts on Kingston Road are bracing for a third hit to their bottom line.

Last year, parts of Kingston Road were torn up to install new water pipes. The year before it was gas lines.

“Three years in a row – it’s like, ‘Enough already!’” said Spence.

Katya Nosko owns the Great Escape Bookstore at Kingston and Scarborough Road, and is a representative of the association’s construction liaison committee. Along with Christmas, Nosko said summer is a peak season for booksellers like her as Canadians are looking for their beach or cottage reads.

“My guess is that it will be considerably less busy this year,” she said, noting that traffic delays and parking restrictions could make the area a tougher sell for shoppers, especially those travelling from other parts of the city.

But Nosko was quick to say the city seems to recognize that Kingston Road Village business owners need support.

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon has been working to see how the city can ease parking issues, she said, and the city’s construction managers have been very responsive during past projects.

Nosko also echoed Spence in saying the city’s new streetscape plans should give the area a boost.

All but two of the tree planters in the Village area will be replaced by trees at sidewalk level, freeing up more space for people in wheelchairs or strollers.

New benches and a new sign marking the Kingston Road Village will also go up at the Scarborough Road intersection, Nosko said, adding to the area’s neighbourhood feel.

“We’re really supported by locals – that’s why we’re here,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have such a strong community.”

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