Esplanade and Mill Street project enters second phase

By Krishika Jethani

In the week of May 15, the city’s Esplanade and Mill Street connection project moved into its second phase: Lower Jarvis Street to Lower Sherbourne Street. Phase 1, completed in November 2021, covered from Lower Sherbourne Street to Bayview Avenue.

The city hopes to improve safety by reducing the speed limit from 40 km/h to 30 km/h and installing two-way cycle tracks and bus passenger platforms on the south side of The Esplanade. Curbside parking will be removed and the street will be pedestrianized and made one way for vehicles.

The city is mailing booklets about the project to communities in the area, Transportation Services wrote in an email.

Masudur Laskar, owner of St. Lawrence Cafe on The Esplanade near Parliament Street, said the project’s first phase hurt business. Navigating physical constriction was so confusing and time consuming that “people don’t want to use this road anymore,” he said. “I also live in this neighbourhood and I know it was not at all a wise decision.”

But Robert Jordan, owner of nearby Ginkgo Floral Design, did not notice major changes in his business, although loading and unloading supplies has become more difficult.

“There’s a lot of kids all the way along The Esplanade, but especially [at] the little school here and the one over by Jarvis [Street]. I think it’s good they’re trying to reduce speed limits and traffi c overall,” he said.

Wayne Cente, who works in Jayy’s Cheers Convenience at George Street, believes the road changes will hurt business because people like to park in front of the store. “I saw a delivery driver trying to figure out with a parking officer where they should park and what they should do.”

“Outside of rush hour, Lower Jarvis Street can be used for deliveries and passenger loading,’’ wrote Transportation Services; accessible loading areas were also added on Jenoves Plaza, just north of The Esplanade. More than 2,000 public parking spaces are within a five-minute walk, it added.

Jin Kim, owner of NOVA Supreme Dry Cleaners (at Jarvis), said almost 30 per cent of his customers park on the street. He fears the project will cause his sales to go down.

But Bill Cheung, owner of New Hair Salon, and Sean Masterson, owner of GoodGood café, said a majority of their customers walk in, so these are positive changes. Too many cars used to be parked in the area, Cheung said, they should use a nearby parking lot instead.

As “most people live right above us, the majority of our customers don’t drive,” said Masterson. “It’s really too early to see what the impact ends up being”.

A third phase of the project is to add more cycle tracks and pedestrian crossings by David Crombie Park as early as 2024. The aim is to “boost road safety for all road users and make walking, cycling and taking transit more attractive,” Transportation Services wrote.