Sparks Street BIA plans $500K beautification project

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The Sparks Street mall will be getting a new look this spring.

Les Gagne is the executive director of the Sparks Street business improvement area and mall authority.

By Jacob Serebrin

In April, the local business improvement area is planning to start work on sprucing up the street. It's part of an effort to draw more people to the area and encourage them to stay longer.

“I think the big thing that we’re trying to do is add a bit of freshness to the street,” says Les Gagne, the executive director of the Sparks Street BIA.

While he says there won’t be “a lot of structural changes,” he is promising “more colour and less concrete.” The plan for this spring calls for new sidewalks and planters, along with more flowers.

He says the plan, which draws influences from places like the upscale Distillery District in Toronto, will add “a bit more personality and a bit more warmth” to the street.

The plan, which has a price tag of between $300,000 and $500,000, is the first phase of a multi-year refurbishment plan that will eventually see trees planted down the middle of the street.

“That’s a much bigger and more expensive undertaking,” says Mr. Gagne.

The goal is to have that finished by 2017, he says.

It’s all part of a larger plan to revitalize Sparks Street as it goes through what Mr. Gagne describes as an intense period of construction.

Along with the physical work, Mr. Gagne says more events are being planned and there will be more live entertainment this summer.

He wants the street, which has for a long time absorbed criticism from residents that no one hangs out there once people in the surrounding offices go home for the day,  to be a “place where people want to congregate.”

“We’re making a conscious effort to create something new,” says Mr. Gagne.

He says that in the past, improvements to the street were “built around retail.” Now, he says, the idea is to build and promote social elements and events in the hope that the increased traffic – and the longer visits – will help drive business.

Organizations: Sparks Street BIA

Geographic location: Distillery District, Toronto

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