Businesses optimistic that Destination Danforth will help recovery

A cyclist rides by a Destination Danforth installation near Logan Avenue on July 27. Photo by Alan Shackleton

By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Danforth Avenue’s active transportation and streetscape improvements are more than halfway done, with only a few days to go before construction is complete.

Dubbed “Destination Danforth,” it’s a pilot project from the City of Toronto partially in response to COVID-19 public health recommendations and partially through the city’s existing transportation plans aimed at expanding pedestrian and cycling use.

Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said the pace of construction was about two kilometres of street every five days.

Danforth Avenue from Broadview Avenue to Dawes Road is getting upgrades and alterations to include painted curb extensions, planters, art installations, cafe seating in curb lanes, curbside separated cycling lanes, and 24/7 parking on both sides of the street.

All to help businesses gain customer traffic, provide safe transportation options, and allow residents the room to maintain physical distance, the city said.

“Overall, feedback from the community has been positive,” Bradford said. “Business owners are glad to reopen, and along with local residents, they’re happy to see investment in the local neighbourhood.”

As of July 31, the first two phases are complete. Phase 1 construction between Broadview Avenue and Jones Avenue took place between July 13 and 24. It included signage installation, pavement markings for new cycling lanes, and patio installations for the city’s CafeTO program.

Phase 2 construction between Jones Avenue and Woodbine Avenue finished on July 31. The remaining section – Woodbine Avenue to Dawes Road will be completed in Phase 3 construction by Aug. 10.

Local businesses are optimistic that the pilot will help recover losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you think about our objectives as a BIA, when it comes to street design, we want to traffic to be slower so that drivers can take notice of our shops,” Danforth Mosaic BIA chairperson Billy Dertilis said. “We want to keep parking available for customers and not penalize them for parking during rush hour, and we want the streetscape to feel safe and welcoming to all.”

“Destination Danforth achieves all this,” he added.

Dertilis also owns Red Rocket Coffee on the Danforth, he believes a “complete street” can help businesses and foster a sense of community.

The Broadview-Danforth BIA was the first part of the Danforth developed for the pilot, now more than a week in, executive director Susan Puff is waiting to see what developments follow.

“It’s too early to comment,” she said. “People are just discovering the newly imagined Danforth, but we are optimistic for an enthusiastic response because we haven’t changed, we’ve just improved.”

  • Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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