One incident after another has left Fredericton’s downtown business owners trying to keep their heads above water.
First a historic flood earlier this year and now major infrastructure upgrades that have wreaked havoc in the city’s downtown core.
“It’s just kind of a double whammy you know and some businesses are having a hard time getting through,” said Mike Babineau, a downtown merchant who owns two restaurants and is opening one more next month.
But it has not been the best time to open a new business, with construction snarling traffic as the city installs storm sewer and sanitary sewer mains in the Regent and Queen Street areas.
Since construction began in Fredericton’s downtown core, business owners are reporting losses ranging between 30 and 40 per-cent.
The business community says that’s of great concern — given the fact that there’s no way to make that money back.
They’re also concerned about the lack of communication between the business community and the City of Fredericton. Projects are being delayed and in some cases deadlines are being missed.
“In the matter of a week that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars that’s coming right out of the economy of downtown Frederiction so for any cost it’s going incur to maybe have the work proceed a little faster I think far outweighs the cost,” says Babineau who would like to see construction projects extended in hours which would cover a 6-day work week.
Smyth Street, Forrest Hill Road and Lincoln Road are next up on the the construction schedule — causing even more concern.
“All of those roads lead to downtown so there’s going to be congestion in other areas and bottlenecks. And we know that the city has worked it out and worked through their modeling and they’re doing the best they can,” says Bruce McCormack, the General Manager of Downtown Fredericton Inc.
The city has opened three park and rides, including this one at the exhibition grounds.
“We just need them to be a little more on their game as far as worrying about our businesses because if we don’t have a vibrant downtown all of this work is for not,” said McCormack.