Region of Waterloo responds to frustrated business owners

Photo by Madeline McInnis

In response to an event held last Monday Sept. 12, 2017 called “Let Uptown Breathe,” the Region of Waterloo will be meeting with the Uptown Business Improvement Area (BIA) to discuss construction in uptown Waterloo.

At “Let Uptown Breathe,” business owners in uptown Waterloo gathered to voice their frustration in regards to the delays they continue to experience with closures and construction surrounding their businesses.

Melissa Durrell, uptown city councilor and member of the Uptown Business Improvement Association Board, read out a statement on behalf of business owners.

In the statement, Durrell read out three requests of the Region of Waterloo: to provide new resources and funding to help customers access uptown businesses, to speed up construction by lengthening the number of hours and days when construction is being done and lastly, a moratorium to end all construction in 2018 as well as perform a re-evaluation of all construction by the Region.

Currently, there are various closures within uptown Waterloo as a result of construction.

King Street is currently closed from the ION tracks to Bridgeport Road, as well as the section from Erb Street to King Street to Albert Street is closed also.

At “Let Uptown Breathe,” Freitas expressed her frustration towards the Region’s process ensuing experiencing physical damage, as business owners like herself may not have the means to hire a contractor to do repairs as a result of business loss.

Phil Bauer, director of design and construction for Region of Waterloo, said that there are a number of reasons for construction delays, one being poor weather conditions.

However, the Region has confirmed that they will not continue on with construction North of Bridgeport in 2018 as originally planned.

As for expediting the construction, Bauer said the decision to work nights and evenings is ultimately up to the contractor.

“The contract does make allowance for the contractor to work extended hours, [but] it doesn’t absolutely require the contractor to do that so we have been working with the contractor to try to find ways to expedite the construction and accelerate and make up for some of the lost time but at the end of the day, the contractor is in control of their forces,” Bauer said.

Business owners like Jennifer Freitas, owner of Truth Beauty Company, have also experienced physical damage as a result of construction, not just business loss.

“The region does have a claims process … if a business feel they’ve suffered damages or losses [sic],” Bauer said.

At “Let Uptown Breathe,” Freitas expressed her frustration towards the Region’s process experiencing physical damage, as business owners like herself may not have the means to hire a contractor to do repairs as a result of business loss.

The Region of Waterloo plans to meet with the BIA this week to discuss options.

“The efforts that we’re taking to work with the Uptown BIA to try to make sure that we’re getting out accurate up to date information and communicate as much as possible on what to expect,” Bauer said.

“The area is accessible, people can get there, there’s lots of places to park, it’s open to pedestrians so that’s our focus I think is on trying to get that message out with the help of the BIA,” said Bauer.

The Region of Waterloo will also be asking the BIA for feedback in terms of timing for completing future construction in 2018, 2019 or beyond.

 

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