And finally… Toronto mall overturns ban on construction workers

A shopping mall in Toronto has sought to “clear up some confusion” about whether construction workers are allowed inside the mall following a backlash on social media.

Construction workers had been ordered to stay away from the Yorkdale mall while they work on the mall’s $331-million expansion after bosses from construction company EllisDon posted two signs in its office and parking area which read: “No Workers are allowed inside the mall during construction work hours”.

It goes on to say: “The Food court or anywhere else in the mall is NOT permitted anymore. If workers are caught inside the mall they will be removed and dealt with accordingly.”

A picture of the sign is circulating on Twitter causing outrage from social media users who said the move is elitist and threatened a boycott.

Now it appears the signs have been taken down and the construction crews will be allowed back in – as long as they change their muddy boots.

EllisDon spokesperson Dustin Luchka said the sign has been removed because it was “not in context”.

“We had asked our site team(s) to change out of their dirty work gear before entering the mall for safety and courtesy reasons,” Luchka said. “Moving into Spring, a lot mud has been dragged in. We have set up a changing station to help with this.”

The company did not respond to further questions about who made the decision to forbid construction workers from entering the mall.

Claire Santamaria, general manager of Yorkdale, said that “there was confusion originating from the company that manages the construction workers,” and that “signs that were posted last week were inaccurate and removed the same day.”

Santamaria said customers and tenants inside the mall had been complaining for some time about contaminants being brought in from the construction zones. Cement, diesel and tar stains were being left behind inside elevators and other surfaces, particularly in the food court. These stains were in turn rubbing off on customers’ clothing, Santamaria says.

“There was concern about contaminants from the construction site being tracked into the shopping centre. When the point was raised with our construction partners, we were told that workers would be asked to change their contaminated gear before entering Yorkdale,” she says in an email.

EllisDon is not the only company with crews on site. The mall’s management raised concerns about the complaints with other companies as well, and EllisDon responded by saying that their crews would change out of their work clothes before entering the mall, according to Santamaria.

She said that when mall management became aware of the signs, which went up last Friday around 6 a.m., they contacted EllisDon and the notices were removed by noon.

The mall has now made an elevator available to the construction workers where they park their vehicles so they can change their shoes and take the elevator to the food court.

Santamaria says. “Construction workers are a part of our community.”

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