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Bank St reopens Dec 1

Local business expects long, slow haul back to normalcy

HOME STRETCH. After a final week of road work, Bank St will see car traffic just in time for the holidays. Credit: Marcus McCann photo

A summer and fall of noise, dust and road closures is drawing to a close, with Bank St set to reopen on schedule, according to city officials.

The monster holes and pedestrian diversion signs have all but disappeared as the final week of work begins. The road remains closed to car traffic until Dec 1.

Tom Ramsay runs One in Ten, a gay sex shop in the middle of the construction zone. He says business has been down by about 20 percent.

While he was financially prepared for the roadwork when it arrived, he doesn’t expect things to turn around overnight.

“We’ve been under construction for six months, so it’s going to take six months to a year to get back to where we need to be,” says Ramsay. “I’m treating it as if we’re still under construction.”

His shop, on Bank St between Lisgar and Nepean, is one of a handful of gay businesses in and around in the area, including Wilde’s, After Stonewall, Centretown Pub, Capital Xtra, the Buzz and Venus Envy. The fledgling Village spans Bank St roughly from Nepean to James and also houses many queer and queer-friendly agencies, including Pink Triangle Services, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa and the Centretown Community Health Centre.

About half of that area was under construction in 2008, with the other half slated for construction starting in the spring of 2009.

During the construction, busses were diverted from Bank St. They’ll return once the road opens, but Ramsay is worried that next summer — when the street is torn up between Somerset and the Queensway — the busses will again disappear from the street.

Moreover, he says that some people have developed new habits during the construction which involve bypassing the roadwork.

“I hope that people didn’t get into a routine that sticks,” he says.

Still, Ramsay says that his shop — which sells sex toys, poppers and porn — has a niche market and that, while new clients have been reduced to a trickle, he still sees a lot of familiar faces.

“There could be a moat and alligators, and people would still come down,” he says.