Dozens of business owners are looking for answers nearly three months after construction along a stretch of Walker Road started negatively impacting their businesses.
Water main work along Walker Road from roughly Wyandotte Street to Ottawa Street started in May.
But many business owners say they’re now hanging on by a thread.
“All of the sudden, the trucks all pulled up and started doing the work and we’re kind of in the dark,” said Jeff Farron, who owns Jeff’s Fresh Meats inside the City Market.
Farron said initially he and other vendors were okay with the construction because it’s for the greater good.
But today, nearly three months after shovels hit the ground, his sales are down 75 per cent and he’s struggling to make ends meet.
“This has been very stressful on us,” he said while fighting back tears. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster.”
Access to the road is limited, with the best accessibility through side streets and off Richmond from Drouillard Road.
There are signs noting the businesses are open during construction, but Farron says his bills are piling up and worries many customers are just staying away.
“They’re afraid. They see all these trucks and stuff and they’re just like, I’m not going on the street. I don’t know what to do,” he said.
He’s not alone. Valentina Surla is a supervisor at Union Bakery. They moved into the market in February and saw a few great months of sales. But that stopped abruptly when construction started.
“This construction looks like it’s never going to end,” Surla said. “How you can have a business and everything around you is closed, like it doesn’t make sense.”
Some vendors are even talking about filing lawsuits.
“I think 15 or 16 weeks to complete a project is a bit absurd,” said Ward 4 councillor Mark McKenzie, who says he’s fielded many calls from angry residents on the issue. He’s regularly touch with the Windsor Utilities Commission project manager to ensure crews are allowing vehicles access to businesses.
“I’ll continue to try to push Enwin to finish this as soon as possible,” he said.
Coun. McKenzie wants to bring the matter before council to take a closer look at how the city can shorten construction timelines along major roads, hoping to cut the length of projects in half.
“Maybe they work until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. And maybe they start at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m.,” McKenzie said. “Let’s not have bank hours when we’re talking about construction projects.”
Robert Spagnuolo, the vice president of water operations at Enwin Utilities tells CTV News crews are on site from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.
“We sympathize with that and we consider that when we do our construction as well, thinking about how can we do it to minimize impact. We’ve kept one lane open so that people can still access businesses,” Spagnuolo said.
“We understand that construction does impact residents and businesses and so trying to keep that to a minimum is our goal, while keeping the public and our crews safe,” he said. “We need to be very careful when cars go through there.”
Spagnuolo said once the watermain construction is complete, they will pave new roadways and sidewalks and estimates they will be done the work by the end of August.
“We’re just going to keep keeping on keeping on and do the best we can,” said Farron.
“Hopefully we don’t go under.”