How can we best manage disruption in 2010?

Roncesvalles Reconstruction, photo from BlogTO

Photo: BlogTO

Recently, BlogTO posted an article on how Roncesvalles businesses are struggling during the reconstruction, a reminder of the importance of supporting local businesses during the holiday season. The BIA urges all Roncesvalles residents, please, to brave the occasional dust blast (and chilly breeze), and drop by your local shops, services and restaurants. We need you now more than ever!

The article mentions several business closures, although it is not clear that all these closures were due to the reconstruction. What is certain, however, is that business is down, and the 30 percent drop that Len McAuley from Pollocks reported sounds typical for the street. Is there way of mitigating the disruption during the second phase of construction (to begin in the spring with the streetcar track and sidewalk repairs)?

In addition to urging continued local support for Roncesvalles businesses, the BIA would like to ask community members for their observations of how this first phase of construction has been managed. What can be done better to ensure that the second phase proceeds as smoothly as possible? Good suggestions should be incorporated into the tender document, which the City and TTC will send out shortly.

Here are some sample observations, and a few suggestions:

1) Do more to ensure pedestrian movement: Quite often during the first phase, pedestrians were required to walk a block or more out of their way just to cross the street. This effectively cut off businesses from half their customers. The new contract should state that pedestrian crossings shall be maintained at each block except when this is absolutely impossible. Each hour that a pedestrian crossing was closed made a difference to businesses across the street.

2) Manage the dust: Perhaps even more than parking and car access, dust and noise were main factors keeping customers off the street. The jackhammers only lasted a week or so out front of a business, but the dust remained far longer. This meant that whenever a bus drove by, a huge cloud of dust was stirred up and thrown into people’s faces. Even after the first blast, micro particles would linger in the air, making the street unpleasant for everyone and intolerable for those with allergies.

3) Contain the mess: Right now, there are several blocks along the street that are finished but still closed off due to staging materials. Wherever possible, the City should insist that staging materials be kept on the same block where work is occurring or just one block adjacent. Whenever a block can be opened up, however partially, it should be.

4) Preserve bike parking: whenever bike posts must be removed in order to reconstruct the sidewalk, temporary bike parking should be provided nearby. Car parking may need to be restricted along Roncesvalles, but there is no reason bike  parking should be.

5) Accept time-based transfers at all Roncesvalles stops, allowing TTC riders forced to switch vehicles at Queen/King/Roncesvalles to shop a bit before resuming travel without requiring use only at designated transfer locations. A similar program has been in place on St. Clair.

6) Bonuses for speedy completion of work should be included in the construction contract

Are there any other observations/suggestions? Please contact the BIA at info@nullroncesvallesvillage.ca, Councillor Gord Perks at councillor_perks@nulltoronto.ca,  or post below!

The community has always understood that the reconstruction work is long overdue and is absolutely necessary to avoid having streetcars run off their rails. And disruption is inevitable with any reconstruction. But there is always room for improvement in how such things are managed. Let’s make sure the lessons learned during this first phase are incorporated into the second!

13 thoughts on “How can we best manage disruption in 2010?

  1. Jay

    There must be an investigation into phase 1 construction as to why construction takes so long to complete. Is the construction being stretched out intentionally?

    Construction projects in other countries get completed prompto. The workmanship of construction must be examined to make sure no one cut corners. When cement is removed cement must be replaced not replaced with asphalt. Contractors must be held accountable, including lose of business.

  2. Laurie

    I’m wondering when they’re going to stop digging, crapilly patching, and then re-digging again in front of my house. They’ve done this 3 times already, and it looks as though it’s going to happen again.

    I also wonder if the city is going to pay to have our front lawns repaired when this is all done. We’ve planted flowers and bulbs in the ground where they’ve been dug up a few times.

    The sporadic water shut offs aren’t cool, and I’m scared to even drink the water due to it turning brown the other day.

    We’re not even through the first phase, and I’m already beyond sick of living in a dirty warzone.

  3. john donaldson

    the construction on the street must be enclosed off as per the const regs this is an accident waiting to happen

  4. Keith Denning, Coordinator, RVBIA

    To reply to various concerns raised here:

    This stage of the construction was always estimated to take about six months. Ripping up track, installing new sewer main and water main and all the various connections… it takes a long time.

    There was a “lull” that has been commented on a number of times. This was a period after the new water main was installed and before individual connections to the water main could be done. Why? Because the new water main had to be flushed out and repeatedly tested for water quality before it could be used. Passing those water quality tests took longer than expected, and not a lot of work was being done during that time.

    To Jay: the sidewalks and tracks, as you may know, are being rebuilt in 2010. When cement is removed this season, it is being replaced with asphalt patch that will be replaced next season with proper cement.

    While it is irritating and seems nonsensical, there are reasons for the repeated visits of the contractors, Laurie. First, a pass to install the new water main. Then a pass for individual water connections to the new main, then a pass for individual sewer connections, and also cuts for the new fire hydrants. Hang in there, we’re almost done.

    Laurie, also rest assured that the “sporadic water shut offs” are nearly over, and that the water main has repeatedly passed water quality testing. I’ve been told that if the water coming out of your tap is discoloured, it is still safe; just run the tap for a few minutes and the water will run clear.

    My understanding is that the city generally replaces lawn where they’ve dug it up for construction purposes, Laurie. You should contact the city directly to look into this further.

    Thanks!

  5. TorGurl

    I am wondering what is being done for all the local businesses. I have been a resident of the area for about 10 years. I have come attached to many businesses in the area, and seeing some of my favorite businesses struggle effects me. I am afraid that once all this construction is complete that the Roncesvalles Village as we know now, won’t be what we know when all the construction is complete. I have always shopped locally and will continue, but speaking with some business owners in the area say that they are affected because of the lack of parking.

    Also, will the TTC be going south anytime soon?? The exercise of walking south is appreciated but when a person is running late, it’s such a pain having to go out of your way.

    I think we all just want our neighbourhood back, we don’t want another St. Clair incident.

  6. this is a joke

    Roncesvalles BIA get your act together. You are out to lunch.

    Why would I want to set up shop in Roncesvalles when BIA is totally out to lunch.

  7. MovieGirl

    I live in the forgotten area of Roncesvalles. (between Howard Park and Dundas) It is very difficult to support local businesses in the minus weather we are having. We either have to ride the bus all the way around to go to say “Thin Blue Line” or bundle up and see how far we can make it walking. Since there are no bus shelters it makes it very difficult to stand waiting for the next bus with your shopping. It is very hard to support local business when I can not access it easily.

    A few weeks ago I was not even able to get into TD Canada Trust because of the huge hole in front of it. The solution to get in was to walk in the middle of the street around the fenced off hole.

    One thing I do not see address on here is how a construction mistake made sewer back up into the Loons. They had to take the hit of closing down while they had to redo the entire basement. Similar things happened in the carpet place. (He lost some stock) I also hear the Silver Spoon is closing this month which is one more business to close at this end of Roncesvalles.

    Sure it will “look nice” when it is all done. But what businesses will be left to see it.

    I believe the city and the BIA are out to lunch like the poster mentioned above. We will not need a BIA soon if there are no business.

  8. Duke

    Geez, talking about being dramatic! There will be no businesses left?? Yeah, all of Roncy will be boarded up. We’ll all have to drive out to Walmart to buy everything…

    Why don’t we tone down the rhetoric a bit. Yes, the construction is an inconvenience, even a major one in some ways. But I haven’t seen one poster here put forth any alternatives. Do you think the engineers, contractors and city officials are deliberately trying to hurt the neighbourhood? Um, no, this is what happens when you reconstruct a street. It’s a major project. It’s inconvenient and annoying, but when it’s done this summer (hopefully) we will all have a much nicer street and the local businesses as well as the residents will be that much better off.

    So take the advice of the BIA – keep supporting local businesses as much as you can, and before you know it we will have an even better neighbourhood.

  9. Tom Kane

    I’m with Duke on this, though I may have a perceived bias. A number of people, including Keith Denning, know that I have been watching the process since July or August (benefit of retirement), often conversing with the crews concerning how they carry out various tasks.

    Many of our sewers and water pipes are 80 to 100 years old. Our neighbours on Sorauren recently were hard hit by the results of those many years of use, weather, and gradual decay on the infrastructure. (It does not help that the old pipes were a mere 4-feet below the surface).

    The new pipes are larger than the old ones, and made of newer materials.

    We’ve seen brickwork service entrances, clay sewer pipe, and old iron (not treated and coated steel) come out of the ground. The new sewer pipes and service accesses are made of reinforced concrete; the new water mains are made of treated and coated steel.

    There are more isolation valves in the new water mains so that fewer homes and business will be affected should a water-main break occur.

    And, anyone who has looked into the ditches has seen the obstacle course through which new pipes pipes traverse to get from Point A to Point B, sometimes through a tunnel under a tree planter or when the new pipe will be very close to a utility pole. The amount of other service “stuff” under our feet is incredible, too, and the soil is mostly sand.

    Like Keith and Duke, I shop locally. When I eat out, or want a beer or coffee I do this in my neighbourhood — Roncesvalles. My pharmaceutical needs are well taken of here; many of my hardware requirements — light bulbs, hinges, a new electrical plug for a lamp — are purchased on Roncesvalles. I do most of my grocery shopping here.

    We’re going to get through this disruption and we’ll have a better “main street” for it. In addition we face a reduced probability of hearing Jim Curran (CBC-1) having to report a water or sewer break on Roncesvalles.

  10. Sandor Lokos

    Today I again made the trek up Roncesvalles north of Fermanagh and the same holes in the same condition were there, as they were last week and the week before. I cannot understand why the construction company does not finish an area before they move on to dig another hole. Doesn’t the city have some control over the condition of the construction site. There is, left over materials, at every block. It all seems so ad hock. The crews in the south were able to complete sewer and water hook up at each location without leaving the excavation open for weeks at a time, fenced and blocking the sidewalk. Why is the north section run so unorganized. I thought that all this work was to be completed by Dec./09. The way things are going in the north they will not be complete for another 2 months. Do we have a completion date from the rest of the sewer and water work, or is our suffering to be endless.

  11. Lynn

    In DECEMBER, someone from city of Toronto commented that the water shut offs were nearly over.

    YEAH RIGHT! I JUST had my water shut off in the middle of dishes. I can’t COUNT how many times since December my water has shut off in the middle of dishes, showers, hand washing, etc. I have started keeping extra emergency water because of city incompetence. Indeed, I sent a lengthy email to the city, only to have them tell me it would be sent the the appropriate person… and I haven’t heard anything since.

    The city of Toronto has made a huge mess up of this job. What shoddy planning and terrible management. You’re ruining the neighborhood, Toronto.

  12. K

    Woke up this morning, April 27th 2010… no water. It’s now 5:15pm, and still haven’t seen anything run out of my taps all day. Naturally we were given no forward notice, never mind apology or update or anything after the fact either. This is nuts.

  13. gcem

    It was too ambitious. People do not realize that the decorative pavers and tree pits always take long to construct then anyone thinks or want to know.

    Bloor St took an extra year. On St Clair thinks were added to the original scope of work many times.

    The result is the ordinary business owners suffer.

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