REGINA – More than two months have passed since construction started on Victoria Avenue East, and businesses are feeling the pinch.
Traffic headaches have been hurting nearby businesses, and now, the city is planning to shut down one of their main access points permanently.
Owners and landlords are teaming up to protest that decision. Owner of Robin’s Doughnuts, Yinghua Liu, is one of them.
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She’s seen her sales drop 30 per cent over the last two months, with only regulars making their way through the maze to get to her coffee shop.
Liu is hanging on to the business by the skin of her teeth, thanks to a show of understanding from her landlord.
Imo Ekong owns Creekside Pub, China Liang’s Buffet and Robin’s Doughnuts. He said it doesn’t make sense to make his tenants pay money they aren’t making.
“My tenants are like my teammates. We’re not boss, employee,” he said. “So in this time, I thought I should lower their rent so they could survive. This is their livelihood. If they lose this, they lose everything.”
Liu is grateful for the help.
“If the landlord doesn’t waive the rent, we cannot survive. We are closed one or two months ago,” she said.
Further up the parking lot, Wine Kitz has also lost business.
“Construction has slowed it down a little bit,” said owner David Carvell. “Nobody likes going into construction zones.”
The problem is access. Initially, drivers could get to the businesses easily. But when construction began, the Coleman Crescent intersection was blocked off.
Eventually, the plan is to remove the Eastgate Drive bridge entirely, eliminating access from the west.
A dozen of the affected businesses showed up at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting to voice their frustrations.
“There has to be east access coming into the mall. That has to happen,” said Ekong.
The planning commission sent the report back to administration, calling for more options to balance everyone’s needs.
“We’ve been asked to re-look at the work we’re doing along Victoria Avenue in the area of Eastgate Drive and see if there’s any other design options,” said Karen Gasmo, a city administrator.
Liu was happy she went to the meeting.
“This time the city listened to us, and they gave us hope,” she said.
Gasmo noted there’s no simple answer, as there’s various things to consider.
“Safety concerns, the new construction of a widened Victoria Avenue and access points for businesses along Eastgate Drive,” listed Gasmo.
There’s no guarantee changes will be made, but the affected business people left optimistic.
“I feel good that we’re being listened to, to some degree, by people who are going to impact the final decisions,” said Carvell.
A new report will be delivered to the Planning Commission on October 7th before a recommendation is passed over to City Council for final approval.
“I think there’ll just be more communication from this point on, which is what we wanted all along. Let’s figure out a way we can do this together,” said Ekong.