Downtown Nelson business owners are eager to see the Stores to Shores revitalization project conclude, as ongoing construction continues to have a negative impact on their bottom line.
But they’re trying to remain positive.
“This is certainly the toughest spring we’ve ever had. The main issue we’ve had is access,” Itza Pizza’s owner Rick Nixon told the Star, while crews were noisily paving Hall St. outside.
“There’s no parking anywhere in the area right now. A lot of people are tentative about walking through a construction zone, and I haven’t been able to put my patio up. Normally people like to sit on the patio with a beer and a pizza, but we haven’t had the opportunity to offer that this year.”
Nixon said he hired fewer seasonal employees in anticipation of the slow-down, and had to cut hours for his full-time staff. And though he understands the necessity of the project, and admires the work being done by Maglio Installations, that doesn’t mean he’s not struggling.
“They’re working as hard as they can, I think. You can’t do a project this size and think everything will go tickety-boo. I’m not dissatisfied,” said Adventure Hotel’s Danny Rickaby. “I think once it’s done everybody will benefit.”
Tourist season affected
Since the genesis of the project, there have been concerns expressed about the project’s potential effect on Nelson’s busiest tourist season — July and August.
Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson said there’s no way to avoid the financial impact.
“Even here at our visitor centre we’ve seen people pull a U-turn and head elsewhere. Our numbers are down. Everyone’s doing their best, and we’re certainly still seeing a lot of people, but the timing’s not great. We have to put our head down do the best we can.”
He said the chamber is pleased with the work Maglio Installations is doing, though he’s concerned about the potential loss of parking spots.
“This is a good thing for the majority of businesses in this area, so we’re pleased it’s moving ahead. It’s the feeling of the chamber board that it will benefit everyone when it’s finally completed.”
Slightly behind schedule
Public works director Colin Innes told the Star the project is on budget but approximately five days behind schedule, due to some adverse weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances.
“Hitting that gas line [last Thursday] set us back a couple of hours, and we had some issues with the weather on a few days, but Maglio Installations has indicated they’re on schedule to be completed in the first two weeks of October,” he said.
“For a project this big, over this duration of time, to be out by a week at this point is not something that alarms me. I’m not nervous, schedule-wise.”
He said the blacktop that’s gone in at the 500-block makes a huge aesthetic difference.
“It makes a huge visual impact, especially to a layperson walking by. It really looks like progress.”
New steps have been installed at IODE Park, and new sidewalks have been poured in front of Sidewinders and Gerick Cycle & Ski.
“I really like the look of them,” said Innes. “Before with the wall, I think some people didn’t realize there was a nice little park up there. With this enhancement it will be a perfect place for someone to go in the summer to enjoy a cold drink or an ice cream.”
He said the view is unbeatable.
“You can sit back and watch all the beauty going on as people bustle around downtown Nelson.”
Road closures scheduled
With the installation of shallow utilities, storm sewers and irrigation lines progressing, crews will establish a temporary roadway and pedestrian crossing at the corner of Vernon and Hall for the complete closure of the Baker and Hall intersection which will begin Thursday and continues until next Wednesday. The closures will last from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m daily.
Also, the 300 block of Hall remains closed to all vehicles due to open excavation.
Pedestrians can still use the staircase on the west side of the street in front of Dr. Bibby’s, Juice FM and Kootenay Co-op Radio.
Installation of sidewalks has already begun on the 400 block.