People are freaking out that Toronto street is being shut down for six months

Rowdy public barbecue prompted City of Toronto to close section of Bruce Avenue for work. But many residents are expecting a link back soon

Public residents of Toronto are freaked out that a major street will be closed for six months, for no apparent reason.

Lane closures between 18 November and 30 June in Toronto were due to upgrade the Humber River Tramway and connect it to a tunnel under the street.

But many residents are convinced that the closure of Bruce Avenue – one of Toronto’s busiest thoroughfares – will be a huge inconvenience.

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Toronto resident Itae Thornton, 49, said she would “be very disappointed” if the paving work was such a major inconvenience and complained that the public notice over the closure was “cheap”.

“It’s quite concerning because we do it once every other year, the [re-paving] project,” she told the Guardian. “I would not say it’s a big deal. The lights in the morning are a big deal.”

Thornton said she hoped there would be a connection back to Bruce Avenue as soon as possible.

Another resident and carpenter, Ben Salls, 58, said he expected the work to be completed before the work was completed on Bruce Avenue.

“It’s a nuisance – you end up driving on sidewalks or on [street] spaces,” Salls said. “It’s a nuisance … I expect there will be a quick link back.”

However, business owners in the area told the Guardian that business had actually slowed down in the months leading up to the road closure as a result of the nuisance of poor street lighting.

“We had been struggling to get people coming in for repairs,” Nader Azzadjar, a former executive director at the Burlington Street Business Improvement Area, told the Guardian. “Now we are left to feel the disappointment of the entire community.”

Azzadjar added that the construction project had also hurt local bars and restaurants during a busy period.

Another area resident, John Doucette, an entrepreneur and computer technician, was equally upset that Bruce Avenue would be closed for so long.

“It’s the second stretch of the street that will be completely under tar – that should be a good indicator to the community that we are on a road that is not up to scratch,” Doucette said.

“One might have expected this road to be a haven for homeless people and drug users and violence, but it has been a very positive thing.”

Much of the road infrastructure on the stretches of Bruce Avenue lined with small homes has been in place since the 1950s, the city said. Much of the work is due to fix leaking pipes and sewers.

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Dealing with street lights – particularly the lack of good street lights during the day – “is not the most pleasant experience”, said Robin Manolis, general manager of infrastructure and drainage.

“We need to take care of all the critical infrastructure needs, and all the things that affect a lot of the residents in the area – including the street lights,” he said.

Bruce Avenue will remain closed until 30 June.

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