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Downtown Uxbridge, Ont., business owners facing added stress as construction begins

Uxbridge construction causes added stress for business owners
On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses in Uxbridge are now facing added stress from a new construction project.

On top of the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses in Uxbridge are now facing added stress from a new construction project.

Work has begun on Monday for a long-awaited culvert installation in the town’s downtown core. It is expected to last through September.

Crews have closed a crucial part of Brock Street between Bascom and Toronto streets. It’s not the best news for several businesses that are already being impacted by the pandemic.

“I don’t think I’m going to survive through this,” said Cheryl Hinzel, owner of Sugar FX.

Hinzel has owned the shop for 15 years. She believes closing her doors will be inevitable.

READ MORE: Durham business owners welcome Phase 1 reopening amid coronavirus pandemic

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“We have had no help. We’ve had very little communication. We just feel like at this end of the street, we’re not pretty,” she said.

“We don’t feel like we matter.”

This sombre reality spans across the street to Mary Taggart, who also feels her thrift shop will go under, since the summer months are usually the best for business.

“We won’t have people that normally would come out and take a stroll downtown,” Taggart said. “You can hear what’s going on. That’s not going to happen.”

A notice was issued by the town last week that construction would begin Monday. It comes as the project was stalled for several months prior to the pandemic.

READ MORE: New Durham Region business struggling to get through COVID-19 challenges

Deputy Mayor Willie Popp says this was done for a number of reasons.

“Moving back to just before Christmas, we were made aware of the fact that one of the properties we own in town had settled somewhat, as there was some excavation by it.”

Popp also said the project manager and contractor needed time to make sure the buildings around the area would be safe.

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When asked about the timing of the $24-million culvert installation, Popp says the work is crucial and needs to be done now.

“I felt the township did everything that it could to make sure our partners were working hard to get this done,” he said.

“We couldn’t have done anything in my mind to make it better. That being said, that doesn’t mean we’re happy with the result and we’re currently going across the road now.”

READ MORE: Durham focusing efforts on recovery post-pandemic

As for business owners, many are struggling to grapple with the uncertainty that lies ahead.

“What’s going today is what’s going to happen tomorrow… we just don’t know,” Taggart said.