Toronto businesses affected by construction are starting their own YouTube channel

Store owner Sophia Noronha was widely applauded last year for making the best of the construction outside her store and using it as her photoshoot backdrop. Now, she and the entire Pape Village BIA are determined to overcome construction obstacles using a new tool: YouTube. 

The Pape Village BIA was awarded a $15,000 Construction Mitagation Grant earlier this year to help the many small businesses in the area deal with the financial impacts of water main construction on their street. 

Businesses located on Pape Ave. were plagued with messy construction all summer long and the financial impacts were severe. 

“My customers were not able to park or stop on the street in front of my business causing a seriously loss in business,” said owner of Kiss The Frog Karen McNeilly. 

“Equipment, rubble and containers were blocking the visibility of my business preventing customers from entering my store. The sidewalks were a mess also preventing foot traffic. Financially, my business was seriously impacted by losses of more than 40 per cent.”

In light of this, as well as the fact that water main construction is expected to resume on Pape Ave. come April, the Pape Village BIA has decided to use the $15,000 grant to produce a YouTube channel featuring content about the 80+ small businesses in the area. 

Noronha, who owns a clothing store located on Pape Ave. called 988 Concept and is vice chair of her BIA, said she hopes it will help get the word out about the incredible businesses in the area that are struggling due to construction. 

“It’s to encourage people to support small businesses, and not just the businesses in the neighbourhoods where you live and work,” she said. 

The channel is expected to officially go live on February 17 and it will include 56 one-minute videos, each profiling a local business. All 56 videos will already be uploaded to the channel by the time it goes live. 

Noronha said the BIA will also use any remaining money from the grant to beautify the street using planters, signs and more.

“The street just looks like shit, to be honest. When I first came here, the street didn’t look like this,” she said. 

And although construction work on the street is technically stopped for the winter, Noronha said much of the mess created last summer was left behind. 

She said hopes the channel will give new customers a chance to connect with and understand the many unique and diverse businesses in the area — ideally persuading them to look past the off-putting appearance of the street and visit local stores and restaurants. 

“The best possible outcome is that it will bring a lot of new business and eyes to the Pape Village neighbourhood. That is the be-all end-all,” Noronha said. 

“If it even brings a small percentage of people that didn’t know about the neighbourhood to the neighbourhood, then our job is done.”

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