The sidewalk outside businesses in the 700-block of Fort Street remains interrupted due to construction on the protected bike lane, although every retailer has customer access. Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS

Latest disrupted retailers remain positive during Fort bike lane work

Business continues despite noisy construction in downtown Victoria

Despite the drilling and dust, it’s business as usual on Fort Street.

On Feb. 28 the City began construction on the protected bike lane in the 500, 600 and 700 blocks of Fort, forcing shoppers to manoeuvre around the project.

The manager of clothing store Dots admits hampered access has affected business.

“I’m seeing far less regulars come in – around a 50-per-cent drop,” said Wendy Barratt, speaking a decibel above the drilling, “Then there’s the dust factor that makes the store messier. Around this time, business is typically slower, but not to this extent.”

The current 700 block project spans approximately eight stores, where alternative walkways have been allocated to redirect foot traffic.

“It is what it is. But I’m positive. When it’s done, I’m sure it will look great,” Barratt said.

The latest update provided by the City of Victoria states, “During the milling work, stakeholders can expect noise and dust. During paving, there will be an asphalt odor and temporary driveway crossing restrictions.”

All commercial loading zones and wheelchair accessible parking will remain open and accessible, promised the update.

The bike lane between Wharf and Cook streets is being constructed in sections to minimize disruptions. Using this approach, construction in the 800, 900 and 1000 “went quite smoothly with minimal disruptions to street activities” according to the City.

“It’s very challenging, but the City is trying to accommodate us,” said Gabrielle Albury, manager of the Dutch Bakery, “The new sidewalk is gorgeous and we’re hoping that when it’s all done it will bring in a new demographic that’s attracted to its newness … We are trying to be positive.”

Construction was intended to end on March 6, however the work continues and barricades remain.

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