Massive sinkhole swallows part of Dundas Street ahead of the holidays

A massive sinkhole has swallowed a portion of Dundas Street West and with it the hopes of local businesses to return to a regular Christmas season.

“My sales have gone down. They’re already down 40 percent since last weekend,” Melissa Ball, owner of Selected vintagehe told CTV News Toronto.

The sidewalks on Dundas Street between Brock and Sheridan avenues are open, but police cars, chain-link fences and orange pylons are blocking the street, discouraging customers from visiting. Ball said 80 to 90 percent of his business depends on these walk-ins.

“I haven’t had a normal Christmas season since 2019,” said Robin Levett, owner of three destinations, another vintage store on the Strip, he said. “I think we were all feeling very optimistic.”

But on November 24, hope of making up for what was lost began to fade when a brittle sewer pipe collapsed on Dundas Street, revealing a great void, 20 by 20 inches wide and 3 to 4 feet deep, below the tram tracks.

William Shea, Toronto Water’s director of distribution and collection, said dirt seeped into the damaged culvert, creating a vacuum, and it was the thick tracks of the Toronto Transit Commission that prevented it from becoming a sump.

Twenty-four-seven emergency work began. “Initially, the repairs were expected to take about a week,” Shea said.

However, the next phase of repair is expected to take two to three weeks, Shea said, and will span the entirety of the holiday shopping season.

dunes“I want to make it clear that every business owner on the block knows that this is an emergency situation and it has to happen now,” Rebekah Hakkenberg, owner of daughter storesaid.

“That doesn’t change the fact that the timing of this couldn’t be worse, and that it’s having a devastating impact on many (if not all) of us.”

Anah Shabbar, spokeswoman for the Little Portugal Toronto Business Improvement Area, said the impact of the construction extends beyond the intersection of Sheridan and Brock avenues. With streetcar rerouting service running between Ossington and Lansdowne avenues, she said business blocks are suffering.

“Many companies make 40 percent or more of their revenue during the holidays,” he said.

While Shabbar has been working with the community to brainstorm ideas for how to get people out on the streets, whether it’s a winter concert or a holiday market, he said the bottom line is that businesses need financial assistance.

“At the end of the day, the [businesses] everyone says we need some kind of money, we need help with finances. They were hoping this would be a year of recovery after the pandemic.”

The city says it is “currently exploring” additional support for businesses in Little Portugal while repairs are made.

“Not only do we depend on the holiday season to get us through January and February, which is always the slowest period in retail, we depend on it to help make up for a very slow year, while we’re still also trying to make up for what we lost. during the first two years of the pandemic,” Hakkenberg said.

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