Some businesses in Little Portugal lost more than 40 per cent in revenue during a three-week closure of a portion of Dundas Street West for sinkhole repairs, the neighbourhood’s Business Improvement Area (BIA) chair says.
The sinkhole was first found on Nov. 24 when Toronto Water was investigating a blocked sewer on Dundas Street West and discovered a large void under the TTC tracks.
The city says it began repair work immediately, resulting in an unexpected street closure between Brock and Sheridan Avenues.
The closure, unfortunately, impacted stores and businesses in the area amid a crucial time for holiday shopping.
“We actually had some tears, I’ll be honest. Some of them (businesses) were just devastated that this had happened. People thought that the whole area was closed, which is not true. The sidewalks are open,” Little Portugal Toronto BIA Chair AnaBela Taborda told CP24 on Saturday.
Taborda says now is a critical time for these businesses as they rely on revenue made during the holiday season to carry them through the slowest sales months of the year, January and February.
She says many businesses have already reported “a tremendously big loss” since the repairs started three weeks ago.
“A lot of them have figured more than 40 per cent (in revenue) and that’s really dramatic. We, as a BIA, we’re planning, along with the city and Councillor (Alejandra) Bravo’s office, some entertainment for the month of January, maybe even February, in order to try to bring the city here to help these small businesses,” Taborda said.
The sinkhole repairs were expected to last until the end of January, but the work was finished ahead of schedule and the street is set to reopen on Sunday.
“It’s so exciting. This is one of the most wonderful neighbourhoods in Toronto. The timing of the shutdown is really unfortunate but we’re open!” Davenport Councillor Alejandra Bravo told CP24.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, Councillor Bravo and Taborda visited stores in the area Saturday afternoon to promote the reopening of the street.
Tory says he’s hoping residents will check out the neighbourhood and support the businesses as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year, the local businesses were hurt the most, the small businesses during the pandemic and in the aftermath when things like this happen, and we just want to say thank you to the city staff and people for fixing it (sinkhole) up. But please, now to the residents of the city, please support these local businesses,” he told CP24.