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Green light for St. Clair streetcar lane

Toronto — City council has approved a Toronto Transit Commission proposal to install a streetcar-only lane on St. Clair Avenue West.

On Wednesday, council voted 36-7 in favour of building the right-of-way between Yonge and Keele streets.

Construction will start next summer on the project.

Supporters of the proposal say the street is badly clogged by rush-hour traffic, and that a dedicated TTC lane will prevent streetcars from getting stuck behind cars making left turns.

But local shop owners along St. Clair lobbied furiously against the right-of-way, saying its construction will eat up parking spaces that are vital to their survival.

“As time goes on, there will be more and more empty shops,” said Jeff Gillan, who owns Carmen’s Designs.

“If we can’t maintain our business, we’ll have to move it. But we’ll still own the property �who are we going to rent it to? More dollar stores?”

Councillor Joe Mihevc insisted that the project would kick-start a revitalization of the neighbourhood, not a decline.

“Everywhere in North America where they’ve put in better transit service, the businesses do remarkably well, and I think the same will happen here,” Mihevc said.

“I think this is our chance for a renaissance on St. Clair.”

City councillor and TTC chair Howard Moscoe says the transit operator would like to see more streetcar-only lanes throughout the city.