Penticton & South Okanagan News
Business owners on Westminster Avenue in Penticton have mixed feelings about the construction work going on outside their doors.
While some say customers are still coming, other have noticed business is a little slow.
"I don't want to paint a black, black picture, but it does make it quieter than usual," said Walter Fritz, the owner of Fritz Shoes Ltd." And people are coming through the back door, because it's difficult to access from the front. I just hope it's over with soon."
The Martin-Westminster project, which is part of the Downtown Revitalization, started on Westminster in February.
So far, electrical and irrigation lines have been run along the avenue between Main and Martin, allowing crews to level the surface and install sidewalk pavers, according to Simone Blais, the city's communications officer.
Work is also moving ahead along the street between Winnipeg and Martin, including pavers and levelling.
New light standards and street furniture will be installed in the coming weeks.
To facilitate the work, there have been some lane closures in the 100 block, but crews are doing their utmost to ensure the closures are brief and the travelling public can get through, said Blais.
The majority of businesses lining the street have remained open. There is a sign up at Jimmy's Kitchen, however, saying they are closed from March 10 to 24, due to the construction, and plan to reopen March 25.
Among the greatest concerns are the noise, occasional shaking, lack of access and fewer customers stopping by.
"It has had its moments, with a lot of little things," said Maureen Mayes, owner of Beadz. "Sometimes the work outside shakes things up. But it has not been terrible, and the workers have been really good."
Mayes said it is her hope that by sometime next week, the fencing can at least come down.
Mike Kennedy, who lives on the street, said he is tired of the noise.
"It's loud, and I'm looking forward to them stopping so I can have peace and quiet," he said. "But the construction guys have been really courteous and they do their best to stay out of our hair. I'm also looking forward to having a tree out front."
Laurie Maltais, the owner of Laurie's Hair Shoppe, admits she was nervous when she first heard about the project, but that quickly went away.
"At first we all panicked, but it's been great, and they keep us up to date," she said. "It's also going way faster than anticipated, and they are good with the older people, helping them along the street."
Once work on Westminster is done in the next two to three weeks, construction will start on Martin Street.
The entire project, including enhanced sidewalks, new lighting and street furniture, infrastructure upgrades and flexible space for merchants, is expected to be finished by the end of May.
Updates can be found at www.penticton.ca/downtown.
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