Delays and disruption in Nelson's downtown will last several months as crews continue to work below the surface.

Delays and disruption in Nelson's downtown will last several months as crews continue to work below the surface.

Downtown construction causes concern

While construction crews have begun closing the trenches opened on the block of Stanley Street below the Nelson Public Library, there’s plenty of drilling and digging still to come in the downtown core.

  • May. 3, 2011 8:00 a.m.

While construction crews have begun closing the trenches opened on the block of Stanley Street below the Nelson Public Library, there’s plenty of drilling and digging still to come in the downtown core.

The downtown electrical conversion project is moving into the heart of the city, and project manager Terry Andreychuk says crews will have to cross Baker Street again at Hall and Josephine Streets.

“We may jump ahead and get those crossings done and out of the way for the tourist season,” says Andreychuk. “We’re trying to get a second crew in here to take care of those, so it doesn’t delay this part of the project.”

Work will also continue on Victoria Street and the upper blocks of Ward.

The conversion project, which began last October at the lower end of Baker, moves the city’s primary electrical lines — as well as the communication wires used by Telus and Shaw — underground. It’s meant to make hydro service in the area more reliable, and free up some of the space now taken over by power poles in the downtown’s back alleys.

While Nelson Hydro general manager Alex Love says the project has been mostly problem-free thus far, this latest phase has raised the ire of at least one Stanley Street business owner.

Katrie Skogster of the Outer Clove says she didn’t receive notice workers would be busting up the asphalt outside her restaurant and has had to close the restaurant at lunchtime because of the commotion.

“The sidewalk’s half gone, we’ve got a fence here that’s two feet from our door. There’s noise and destruction,” she says. “It doesn’t look like we could be open.”

Skogster says had she known the project was coming her way she would have prepared for the disruption.

“I assume the work needs to be done, but had they given any kind of notice about it, perhaps we could have planned accordingly,” she says.

“We wouldn’t have ordered food. We probably would have scheduled that people take holidays now, and closed.”

Love couldn’t say why Skogster didn’t get the notice — but she should have.

“We have had some problems where notices have been delivered, but the manager never gets the notice,” he told the Star.

“I don’t know whether that happened to her or not, but she should have got the notice.”

Love says he has heard a few concerns about access to businesses and noise, but  “there have probably been only three or four complaints so far in the whole project.”

Potential dates for the remaining civil engineering work are available at nelson.ca — but are off by several weeks because contractors resumed work this spring three weeks later than they expected to due to inclement weather.

That delay is the only one the project has experienced so far, Andreychuk says.

“Aside from the three weeks behind, we’re doing really well.”