FIFA Women’s World Cup delays restoration of Moncton’s Downing Street

WATCH: Moncton’s Downing Street restoration project was meant to be a legacy in honour of the city’s 25th anniversary, but was pushed back a year and nothing has started. Alex Abdelwahab reports.

MONCTON – The start date of Moncton’s Downing Street restoration project was pushed back by a year because of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

It was meant to be a legacy project in honour of the city’s 125th anniversary, but construction has yet to begin.

Moncton City Councillor Charles Leger told Global News the start date of the project was changed so that it wouldn’t conflict with the World Cup.

“It was problematic to have construction in our city when FIFA was here,” he said. “So the decision was made to forgo last year, because it’s an over two-year project.”

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Downing Street sits directly across from Moncton’s City Hall, but the street is closed to through traffic, and is blocked off by a parking lot.

The city announced last year that it would restore the street between Main Street and Assumption Boulevard. Leger said that when the parking lot was built, the city retained the right of way.

The first phase of construction was initially supposed to begin in the fall of 2014, with the second phase beginning this past spring. But Leger said construction is expected to start later this year.

Phase one will focus on installing curbs and upgrading the street to make it a thoroughfare; phase two will focus on beautification.

“It is meant to be a gathering area,” Leger said, explaining the final look of the street hasn’t been decided. “It is meant to be a space that the public want to gravitate too.”

On Monday, Lea Apostoleris was in town from Nova Scotia, for business. She said she decided to take a break in front of city hall because she thought it was a beautiful public space.

But looking at Downing Street, she called it “ugly.”

“Not enticing for me to walk down at all,” she said, adding she thought it was “kind of an eyesore.”

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Adam Pridham, a Riverview resident who works downtown in Moncton, agreed.

“I understand the need for parking downtown, but it’s kind of an eyesore,” he said. “This is the centre of downtown Moncton and we have a lot of undeveloped space here. It doesn’t look great.”

Both said they are looking forward to the street’s development.

Chad Steeves, owner of the Tide and Boar Gastropub, which sits at the corner of Downing and Main Streets, also agreed, saying more pedestrian areas would be good for business.

“Tourists and people who aren’t from the area definitely walk by and essentially window shop where they’re going to eat,” he said. “The more people walking by, the more customers we’re definitely going to have.”

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