The Glebe may be clogged with dust from construction but shopkeepers are fighting against reports saying business is suffering.
While trekking through one of Ottawa’s oldest urban neighbourhoods, Xtra had difficulty getting Glebe shopkeepers to speak. Many retailers report sales are steady and are excited to see how the area’s going to look when the construction finishes this November.
“What people are saying is the construction is being managed well,” says Christine Leadman, executive director of the Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Created in 2008, the Glebe BIA is the youngest BIA in Ottawa. To be proactive about keep people shopping in the Glebe, Leadman says marketing and consulting firms trucked as the construction crews did.
To drive business, they created the “We Dig the Glebe” campaign, where all BIA members shared $50 coupons and every week someone wins a $450 draw. The coupons can be used in various shops along the Glebe. Every month, there’s a draw for an Apple iPad and a bike from Kundstadt Sports.
But Leadman says shopkeepers are scrambling to adjust their inventory and reduce staffing. Originally slated for 2012, the City accelerated the $22 million project by a year.
But compared to Centretown’s three seasons of road reconstruction, no one’s complaining too much.
“In many respects, yes, certainly some businesses won’t do as well. It is what it is. Rather than killing it slowly, this way it’s done in a year. Everyone knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when,” says Leadman.
Undeniably, nearly two kilometres of the Glebe on Bank St is under construction and it is a hassle to get through. But an OC Transpo spokesperson said bus service remains yet rerouted to O’Connor St.
There’s no reduced bus service in the Glebe. It will slow down because of traffic but it still runs. It’s reduced because of time but nothing major,” says the spokesperson.
And parking your car turns into a scavenger hunt.
Glenn Foran, manager of Capital Home Hardware, says construction had low impact on his sales. He also says most of Glebe’s customers come from abroad and are used to searching for parking.
“We’re very personable with our customers and we know a lot of them by name. Customers are used to little parking,” says Foran.
Katie Hurdon, manager of The Sassy Bead Co., says customers joke about how difficult to find parking in the Market where Sassy Bead has another store.
“The construction’s not really as bad as I thought it would be. But there isn’t much of a problem getting store traffic (in the Glebe). Many people specialize in their craft,” says Hurdon.
It might be interesting to note the City allows free parking at Landsdowne Park when there are no shows happening.
Capital Ward councillor David Chernushenko says the faster the construction, the better.
“The lesson the City learned over many years is no matter what you do (construction) is disruptive to business. When you spread it out over three years, the end result is all the drivers get frustrated and the construction gets slowed down. Getting it all done at once is a big disruption in a short time versus a big disruption over a long time,” says Chernushenko.
A Glebe Community Association representative could not be reached in time for comment.