logo logo

Casino shuttle buses unwelcome near Scarborough malls, says councillor

Companies use street as ‘cheap bus terminal,’ resident says

Scarborough-Mirror January 18, 2018 Mike Adler 
BUS no-stopping zone

A motorcoach stops to pick up passengers on Bonis Avenue, near an entrance to Agincourt Mall, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the day Scarborough councillors decided to investigate making the street a no-stopping zone for buses. – Mike Adler/Metroland

Casino shuttles parked near malls and plazas are being targeted by a Scarborough councillor who says they pose a safety hazard.

Jim Karygiannis says he’s asking companies to keep tour buses off residential streets in his Scarborough-Agincourt ward.

That includes Bonis Avenue beside Agincourt Mall, Redlea Avenue near Splendid China and Bamburgh Circle near a commercial plaza at Warden and Steeles avenues.

“On one hour on Bonis you will probably find three or four buses,” Karygiannis told Scarborough Community Council on Jan. 15.

“I’m asking: please find other places.”

Companies which operate the shuttles seven days a week started stopping on Bonis, and then approached Agincourt Mall about using its parking areas, said Steve Bishop, vice president of development services for the mall’s owner, North American Development Group.

Last fall, after a year or two of complaints from customers, tenants and residents about their presence, the mall told companies their buses were no longer welcome.

“We were concerned about liability,” Bishop added.

The shuttles, however, went back to picking up and dropping off passengers on Bonis, sometimes “right in front” of a crosswalk close to the Agincourt Public Library, Paul McKinlay, who lives nearby, told Scarborough councillors.

“They’re just using it as a cheap bus terminal,” he added.

Karygiannis asked City of Toronto staff to report to community council in March on prohibiting stopping on Bonis, Bamburgh and Redlea. Fellow councillors agreed, though one, Michael Thompson, told Karygiannis the bus problem wouldn’t go away.

Karygiannis later said he will try meeting with the companies and ask them to park their shuttles on industrial streets near the shopping areas instead of residential ones.

On Jan. 15, a reporter saw one shuttle, operated by Safeway Tours, pick up passengers on Bonis Avenue.

Later in the week, however, Safeway was no longer listing Agincourt Mall as one of its six pickup locations in Scarborough. A woman answering calls for the company said the mall was dropped from the schedule on Jan. 16.

The Scarborough-based Chinese Family Services of Ontario have criticized the shuttles, saying they have “normalized” gambling and made it more accessible to the Chinese community.