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Fredericton businesses prepare to weather construction season

Construction season has begun in Fredericton and that has businesses worried while weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. Nathalie Sturgeon/Global New Brunswick

As Fredericton businesses start to feel the hope that comes with the potential green phase in New Brunswick, many of them are facing a long summer of construction.

Mike Babineau, a local restaurant owner, said the construction season will hurt business. However, this year came with some heads up, he said.

Three projects are impacting the core of the downtown area, including two on King Street and one on Regent Street, according to the city.

“I think it’s not going to be great for business, obviously, you know, but we’ve all known for quite a while this construction was going to happen,” Babineau said in an interview Wednesday.

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He said the City of Fredericton, alongside Downtown Business Inc., helped create a communication plan for projects planned during the summer months. It provided a heads up on potential impacts to local businesses, he said.

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It’s something that wasn’t in place before, Babineau explained, which caused significant losses for area business owners.

“We’re really lucky that the city has embraced communication with the business community and with Downtown Fredericton Inc. … and we’re fortunate that’s gone over pretty well,” Babineau said.

Greg McCann, a project manager with the City of Fredericton, said the communication plan reduced the confrontational situation between the two groups. McCann said the projects were postponed last year to reduce the impact on businesses during the pandemic.

“This year with the work that we’ve done, it’s kind of like we’re both in this together, so to speak,” McCann said. “There is not that confrontational back-and-forth, it’s more let’s go at this together and we’ll do what’s best for everyone.”

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Fredericton Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Krista Ross said there is a renewed push toward supporting local businesses.

She said it is about ensuring businesses survive.

“If you survived this, you can survive anything,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

While the city works on improving infrastructure, Babineau said it is a good time to get used to walking to the downtown locations.

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“We have to get in the habit of really trying to go walk that extra little bit to get to get to that location,” he said. “It’s no different if you’re at the Regent Mall.”

The projects on King Street should wrap up in June, according to McCann, while the project on Regent Street is expected to last until August.

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