King Street business owner after meeting with mayor: “If this keeps up we won’t be in business anymore… A lot of damage has been done.”

Jan. 12, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

“We’ll just wait and see,” Al Carbone of the King Street Kit Kat bar said to reporters, following a meeting with Mayor John Tory and Councillor Joe Cressy about the King Street pilot.

Businesses along King Street say they are suffering because of a traffic project that, among other things, prevents cars from parking on King between Bathurst and Jarvis.

“If this keeps up we won’t be in business anymore. That’s our main concern,” Carbone said. “We’ve lost a lot of money so far. People aren’t coming to the area and we want people to come back. A lot of damage has been done. They’re going to try to rectify it. I don’t know how but they’re giving us a few options that they’re going to look at.”

One option that was announced during the meeting in a press release is discounted parking near the pilot area, which would be in addition to the $5 discount offered on selected streets and lots near the pilot last year. Today, they announced there will be another discount for $10 off parking (which would allow someone to park for two hours in the most expensive areas), but the promotional code has not yet been released.

The release also states that 50 percent of the spaces that were removed from King Street will be added to side streets in the area, saying there are 8,000 parking spaces available in the pilot area within walking distance of King Street.

Councillor Cressy was the first to emerge from the meeting, calling it a “very productive and helpful meeting for the mayor, for myself, and I hope for many of our local businesses, retailers, and business improvement associations.”

Carbone is hoping to see a change in the imminent future. “The sooner the better. We want to pay our bills, we want to pay our staff and it’s a matter of cash flow… They’re going to try to fix it now because the damage is done.”

Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, says the main issue is the area between Bathurst and Simcoe Streets. Elenis told reporters after the meeting they conducted a survey with the restaurants in December that showed a decline of up to 52 percent, and also found credit card data for eating establishments that showed a 41 percent decline year on year in what is typically the busiest month of the year. “That’s very significant in this kind of cash-flow industry. We’re not a bank. We need this urgency to really be delivered. We’re talking about well over 1,500 jobs in our industry just in that area alone.”