The King Street Transit Pilot is working double time this week as both a transportation project and the subject of a widespread social media soap opera.
There hasn’t been this much drama coming out of the entertainment district since Drake’s caravan cut off a motorist during TIFF – and it just keeps on rolling, right into Twitter feeds across the city.
King Street business owners & their employees unveil a social media campaign today appealing directly to the public. Show your support by sharing this message across your social media networks using #ReverseKingCarBan || #Toronto #KingStreetPilot pic.twitter.com/d2YCeuxrzO
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 22, 2018
Kit Kat Restaurant owner Al Carbone, who last week erected a large middle finger made of ice on his property, held a press conference on Monday morning to once again decry Mayor John Tory over King Street’s new traffic restrictions.
Carbone told reporters today that his sales have dropped at least 50 per cent since November, when the pilot project came into effect.
He (and some other business owners along King) blame the city’s elimination of parking spots between Bathurst and Jarvis for declining revenues, though others suggest that cold weather and competitors could be at fault.
Wait, it’s the ban on driving on King that turned patrons away from area restaurants and not paying $ 15 for Costco chicken fingers and $ 18 for basic pasta dish? #ReverseKingCarBan
— Daniel (@Mason_TR) January 22, 2018
Either way, Restaurant Row has been tearing up the web for a solid week now with its ice sculpture shenanigans and related backlash.
— Brian F. Kelcey (@stateofthecity) January 22, 2018
City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is among those fanning the flames by promoting the hashtag #ReverseKingCarBan on Twitter today.
“The King Street merchants just launched a social media campaign. It’s a great idea!” he tweeted this morning. “Let’s help spread the word and support the local businesses.”
— Giorgio Mammoliti (@mammolitiward7) January 21, 2018
Unsurprisingly, given his stance on the issue, mayoral candidate Doug Ford has been similarly active in promoting the anti-pilot campaign.
All you really need to know is the two biggest political champions of #ReverseKingCarBan are #DougFord & #GiorgioMammoliti neither of whom have any idea what living downtown is actually like, or what commuting is like, or what riding transit is like. #ToPoli #KeepIt pic.twitter.com/SoFpXg9ZiD
— Alex Kane (@alexpkane) January 22, 2018
The #ReverseKingCarBan hashtag, while not exactly accurate as cars aren’t banned on King, is being used by Carbone and his supporters to ask the city for an immediate end to the King Street pilot.
“We’d like the mayor to reverse it immediately. It’s hurting too many businesses all at once,” said Carbone today during his press conference. “They want to do a pilot project for a year; I’ll do a campaign for a year.”