‘It’s just rough for everybody’: Regina construction zone hurting local business

Fresh & Sweet, a downtown Regina cafe, says construction on Victoria Avenue is hurting its business.
Fresh & Sweet, a downtown Regina cafe, says construction on Victoria Avenue is hurting its business. File / Global News

Fresh & Sweet is a local cafe that sits at the corner of Victoria Avenue and McIntyre Street. The Regina business has been operating for ten years, but the last decade hasn’t been all sweet.

“I don’t even know what it’s like not to be in a construction zone,” said Beata Kowalski, co-owner of Fresh & Sweet.

Over the last eight years, the Capital Pointe project closed off nearby streets for the local cafe, causing its business to slow down.

Things got worse this summer. Since July 5, Victoria Avenue and nearby roads have been restricted as a part of the city’s $6 million dollar Victoria Avenue infrastructure and beautification project.

READ MORE: Capital Pointe developer announces plans to continue construction

The road restrictions have blocked off all parking spots along Victoria Avenue and the sidewalks along Fresh & Sweet have been closed to pedestrians with fencing that wraps along the cafe.

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Signs that say “open for realz” have even been put up on the fences to remind customers that they are still open.

“We made this sign like eight years ago and we’ve had to use these signs multiple times,” Kowlaski said.

READ MORE: Construction season officially paves the way in Regina

Kowalski said she hit her breaking point when she was walking to work Friday morning.

The construction made her commute so unbearable that she “didn’t want to come to my own restaurant, that’s how I knew it’s affecting people.”

She’s worried that if she and her staff have a hard time getting to the restaurant, her customers most likely put up with the inconvenience.

The slower business has had a domino effect on her employees. Kowalski said she has tried her best not cut anyone’s shifts, but she can only do so much.

“We’re hoping for our regular business but then we’re just cutting everybody’s shifts short. That ends up showing up on their paycheck and it’s just rough for everybody,” she said.

Kowaslki is not against progress in the city, she just wishes for clearer communication.

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The city did warn nearby businesses of the upcoming restrictions but Kowalksi said they weren’t told of the extent.

“If the city would’ve sat down and talked to us they would know that you can’t shut down all of our walking traffic,” she said.

The City of Regina issued the following response.

“The city acknowledges that this construction project presents challenges for drivers, pedestrians and businesses. Businesses and residents along the construction route were made aware about the project and advised prior to the work starting.

“We continue to ask for and thank them for their patience and understanding as we strive to complete this work quickly and safely in our short construction season. The improvements resulting from this $6 million project will create a more pedestrian-friendly downtown with new accessible and wider sidewalks, new boulevards, larger curbs and enhanced street lighting to better serve our community.

“This phase of the two-year project is anticipated to be completed by mid-October.”