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Leslieville BIA makes the best of a big summer mess

Think of it as an east-ender's take on "Keep calm and carry on."

A few months ago, the Leslieville BIA was confronted with a conundrum that's becoming increasingly familiar around the city.

It's burgeoning strip, just a few years into its own, was going to be more or less shut down as the city and the TTC ripped up its very heart, the intersection of Queen and Leslie, to install new tracks for the new, bigger streetcars that will soon be streaming out of Leslie Barns to the south.

As a result, from May 12 to June 21, Leslieville, like St. Clair and Roncesvalles before them, was going to be in a form of municipally imposed suspended animation.

So they studied what happened on St Clair when the right of way was installed, and Roncesvalles when they got their tracks and much of their under-street infrastructure replaced over a period of months, and even went as far afield as Banff for ideas.

Then they hired a Leslieville designer, Kinnon Elliott, who came up with the poster for the "Take a Leslieville detour" campaign to keep people shopping, eating and strolling down their strip of Queen.

The BIA's co-ordinator, Cathy Quinton, says they used a bus shelter ad space donated by the TTC for one big poster, and the on-site TTC staff offered to put up other versions of Kinnon's work in place of their actual detour signs.

"The TTC themselves have been extraordinary," Quinton says, praising the weekly status update meetings they have together to keep the shopkeepers up to date during what can be very trying and frustrating times.

And to celebrate the end of the disruption, the BIA is organizing a Lemon Fest, following the theme of making lemonade when the city hands you a lemon.

On June 21, there will be neighbourhood lemonade stands between Vancouver and Booth, the boundaries of the BIA, a photo booth for people to give their best puckered faces, local framer Heliographics is offering a first prize of free custom framing for the best lemon-based image submitted by festival goers, and restaurants along the strip will feature a lemon dish of the day.

All proceeds from the day will go to Leslieville's family Red Door Shelter.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Cathy Quinton
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