The City of Toronto has introduced two-hour free parking along Eglinton Avenue for the duration of Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction in order to support local businesses in the area.

The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) will offer a $6 discount in Green P paid parking lots within 200 metres of Eglinton Avenue, from Jane Street to Don Mills Road. This is the equivalent of approximately two hours of free parking in most spots. This discount will be available throughout the construction period through the TPA app.

The city will also launch a blitz to clean up the corridor and make it more attractive to potential patrons.

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the initiative Friday, acknowledging the importance of accessibility across the corridor.

“If you think about it, this is by far the biggest undertaking of this kind when it comes to parking we’ve ever had,” he said at the press conference. “I think this will make a big difference.”

City Council also approved a $100,000 fund that will provide technical and economic support to businesses along the Eglinton corridor. This includes expanding Digital Mainstreets, an organization that helps businesses with their digital presence, and providing an analysis of the neighbourhood’s demographics in order to identify factors that attract and deter shoppers.

The city plans on studying how best to mitigate the disruption caused by transit construction. This report will be made available to city council in 2019.

John Tory also talked about potentially reviving a campaign similar to the “Food is King” program, which partnered local businesses along King Street with food-ordering app “Ritual”.

“The whole idea of this entire program is to get customers to come to these stores,” Tory said. “Eglinton is a very special street. If you look at the stretch covered by the discounted parking, from west to east it has a huge diversity including the Little Jamaica area and many other areas that are quite historic in terms of the retail presence. So I strongly encourage people from across the city, now that they know there are these advantages, to come and explore Eglinton Avenue.”

The 19-kilometre Eglinton LRT is expected to be operational by 2021. It will include 21 stations and will run from Kennedy Station to Mount Dennis.

Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency overseeing the Eglinton Crosstown, has also agreed to provide support to local businesses. Their initiatives include a targeted advertising campaign that will support the Oakwood community and celebrate its Caribbean culture.

Metrolinx will also be funding temporary bus shelters along the corridor and will be funding registration for restaurant participation in Summerlicious.