The City of Courtenay had expected the Fifth Street Bridge repairs to be completed this month, but the rehabilitation project will continue through Christmas and into 2022.
“Who would have thought any kind of government situation would get extended?” Greg Wilson, owner of Butcher’s Block on Fourth Street, said tongue-in-cheek. “We have many customers that don’t come near as frequent, and tell us that, because they don’t like the traffic and they shop at other places.”
“We’re not surprised it went over,” added Wilson’s son Colby, who works at the business. “Every government contract goes over the time. That was our main concern two years ago when we were fighting it. It’s going to suck, especially for Christmas. We’ll be OK but the smaller shops on Fifth, that’s when they make all their money.”
Jay Valeri, co-owner of Bigfoot Donuts at 463 5th St., concurs with Wilson.
“For retailers I imagine it’s going to impact them quite a bit,” said Valeri, who feels the Fifth Street widening project impacted his business more than the bridge repairs. “For us, it’s hard to gauge what the impact has been.”
Sheila Toni, who owns Sacred Earth Metaphysical near the corner of 5th and Cliffe, finds the bridge construction more disruptive to her home life than her business.
“I find it really loud and lots of traffic,” said Toni, who lives near the downtown core. “I think people adjust. I see that traffic has piled up and that’s a concern for some people, it’s more time consuming. I’ve lived in big cities, so I don’t feel this is a huge inconvenience.”
Jodi Einarson, owner of Cause and Effect Wellness Within on 5th Street, has noticed a decline in business since bridge construction started in April. While the summer months were fine, she said the Christmas season is her “bread and butter” which gets the business through the first three months of the year.
“The problem is we don’t what to order,” Einarson said. “We can’t base on Christmas pasts, how much stock we need and if people from out of town are going to come…But we’re still plugging away.”