In a presentation to town council Tuesday, storeowner Angela Macdonald urged the town to give business owners more than 24 hours’ notice, reduce the amount of time streets are closed off, repair potholes in a timely manner and encourage people to shop downtown.
“Some people feel there has been a general lack of respect from some town officials and workers alike, for the people who do business down here,” said Macdonald, who owns Angela’s Attic Antiques on Provost Street.
She was troubled by a town statement released last Friday apologizing for delays in completing downtown roadworks, prompting her fellow business owner Shaun McLean to speak out on Facebook.
In a Facebook video posted Saturday, McLean said that a previous round of construction in the buildup to Christmas seven years ago ruined businesses, even forcing a few to close for good.
“It killed our Christmas season,” said McLean. “The stores fell like dominos. No importance was given to that from the people who had made the decision.”
However, Mayor Nancy Dicks said that downtown was “open for business.”
Dicks said the repaving of Archimedes Street will be completed by the end of this week.
This will allow the town to start repaving Provost Street, which she said will be completed by the end of October, if not earlier.
Council voted unanimously to grant the Provost Street repaving tender to Blaine F MacLane Excavation Ltd., at a cost of $121,600 plus HST. The town says this will minimize delays.
Both streets need rehabilitation as their bases have crumbled.
“The deleterious material needs to be removed and the proper gravel put back and, in order to pave, you have to do fine grading, so the top layer has to be shaped, rolled and compacted prior to paving,” said Earl MacKenzie, director of engineering and public works, at Tuesday’s meeting.
But Dicks encouraged people to continue shopping downtown, saying that stores are a quick walk from the nearby free parking.
The mayor also had a message for business owners.
“Our message to them is that we are working quickly and diligently regarding the proper reconstruction of the roads and we are doing it in a timely manner and with the least disruption to downtown businesses,” said Dicks.
However, another concern for business owners are the crosswalks on Provost and Archimedes, which are in poor state and dangerous for people with mobility issues.
Dicks said the crosswalks will be fixed once roadway repairs are completed.
“We certainly apologize for the difficulties with the crosswalks right now,” said Dicks.
– With files from Sam Macdonald