It’s loud, dirty and somewhat inconvenient; construction on Lakeshore Road has now been underway since May.
For many business owners summertime is their busiest season. But with a torn up road and detour signs, those like Cathy Biagi, owner of Ritchcraft Gallery, business over the past few months has dropped between 30 and 50 per cent compared to years past.
“I think it’s a combination of people getting tired of going through (construction) and not having the tourist traffic,” she says. “They don’t necessarily want to make the effort -- to take the time to read the signs -- to find us, or they just don’t know. Before (tourists) used to in previous summers just wander down from the resorts to grab their coffee, and a lot of my business came from that.”
Down the street at Mission Meats, there hasn’t been much in the way of a change in business, but they’re a destination location. However, owner Sharon Gray says there is some concern over the dust and noise.
“The parking lot is not always wet enough to hold the dust down, and the parking lot is filthy. So we go out there and clean, but then it’s hard to keep things inside clean, but the staff is really good a maintaining that,” says Gray, who is thankful for her loyal customers.
Both business owners and customers alike say the biggest inconvenience is trying to get into the main parking lot in front of the strip mall, where cars line up six to 10 at a time waiting to get in or out.
Another issue concerns pedestrians. While Castanet was on location, three men tried to weave their way through the construction maze as they were unable to find a clear and labelled path.
“It was a little tricky getting around there,” says one of the men. “It would have been nice if there was more signage, or maybe someone to direct you. That would have been great.”
Despite the construction woes, Lakeshore is still a hub of activity and there were plenty of people who are willing to make the trek to support local business.
One man explains that before the construction began he would wash his car at Mission Super Wash almost every week, but was deterred after recently driving home from the wash and finding his vehicle covered in dust.
“I thought 'Oh no, you don’t wash your car to have it dirty again'. But then I thought this guy is a business owner and I am a business owner, this is a nasty situation, so I said I am going to support him and keep coming and washing my car.”
Others tell Castanet that the location of the Lakeshore businesses was very convenient if they were coming from the H2O centre, or if they lived in the area.
Purvez Irani with the City of Kelowna says work is progressing, water mains have been completed, utilities are wrapped up on the north side, and the road is almost ready to be paved.
A completion date for the project is set for the end of November and crews will continue to work six days a week to manage that timeframe.