Vernon politicians are providing assurances to downtown businesses that road construction won’t send customers in the other direction.
On Friday, council gave the green light to rehabilitation of 32nd Avenue, from 27th to 29th streets, beginning Monday even though Briteland and other merchants have expressed concerns.
“There will be unfettered access from the other avenue,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
“This business has an alternative for its customers. If people are loyal customers, they will find you.”
The project was supposed to start April 11 but was stalled after businesses indicated they had received short notice about the work and it would come during Briteland’s busy season. A special council meeting was held Friday to determine if the work would proceed as scheduled or wait until July.
Mayor Akbal Mund is confident city staff and the contractor will do everything possible to ensure access to the businesses.
“If there is a speciality business like this, they (customers) will find their way in,” he said.
Coun. Scott Anderson voted against starting construction Monday.
“Staff and council has put out the message that the city is open for business but all of that good work disappears when something like this comes up,” he said.
“Mistakes were made and we have to take responsibility for those mistakes.”
An additional $13,000 will be spent by the city to promote access to the merchants during construction.
A formal strategy will also be developed to manage traffic in the construction area.
The city will also pursue further steps to communicate with businesses during future infrastructure around the community.
“Our consultation process for capital works will be refined,” said Mark Dowhaniuk, infrastructure engineer.
One possibility is to let businesses know of expected work in the year ahead once the budget is approved in December.
Delaying the 32nd Avenue project by a week could see the city pay a $26,717 penalty to the contractor. That matter was discussed in-camera by council Friday.
Briteland could not be reached for comment.