June 6th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 23
Construction/Business Effects
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles Photo
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
According to administration, the construction project in downtown Coleman is still on schedule.

At May 28th’s council meeting, administration and council took some time to discuss the project.

One question asked by Councillor Ward was how similar the final product will look compared to the pictures that were shown earlier on in the process.

Administration says the final look will be fairly close to the hardscaping look that was presented at the open house.

If anyone would like to see it again it is on the municipal website.

While the construction is still on schedule, it is still affecting local businesses in different ways. Here’s what some businesses had to say about the process.

How has the communication been between you and the municipality throughout this process?

Anonymous Business (AB): They are wonderful. They gave me their card if we ever needed anything form them. They're really good.

Country Encounters (CE): The municipality themselves up until the point that Wayne Robutka came back it was absolutely atrocious. Once Wayne was back on the job it's been substantially better.

Crow Works (CW): The majority of the communication has come directly from the contractors. In terms of phone calls or emails from the municipality there hasn't been any. I have been in Chamber of Commerce meetings with Patrick Thomas from administration but in terms of formal correspondence nothing direct from the municipality to my business.
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Little Mountaineers Learning Centre (LM): It was nice to have the meeting with the municipality but I haven't had a lot of communication with the municipality. The communication has been really great between the business and the construction team. They have been fabulous.

How has your business been affected?

AB: We haven't been affected too badly by the construction because we are far enough off of the main section of it. It hasn't been too bad for us. The one thing I've noticed for how it affects people is the seniors who are trying to get to the post office through the construction. It's been hard for them.

CE: It's been affected pretty badly. Part of my business is accommodations rentals and stuff like that. Nobody wants to stay in a place with machines outside the door. I've experienced probably a 15 per cent drop in revenue on the accommodation side over last year at the same time period. I've had nine reservations cancel when they found out about it. I've had one mention in a review about the construction. I'm not sure how the restaurant has been affected because it's new this year. I went through a period where people came up to me on the street and asked me when we were going to open and had to tell them that I am open. There's also inconvenience for my catering because I have to haul food further out of the building.

CW: There are three effects. First off, people are struggling to find a way to the back door. We've had a number of phone calls and I've been stopped out in the streets by people who tried to come and thought we were closed.
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We've also had to go out and shepherd them into the shop. Second effect is vibration. I have a large printer, which is right at the front of the shop, and I can't operate it when there is vibration due to street construction because it would leave artifacts on the printing so I have to push that part of production into the evening. The third effect is couriers. For smaller parcels delivered by Purolator, that stuff is getting through because the regular delivery guy knows his way around the area. When I get larger deliveries on palates, they can't get down the back lane, so I have to drop everything and go to the highway to have it loaded into my truck and then bring it back to the shop and unload. That's quite disruptive. My chief annoyance is that when the construction started, we were told that we would only have one intersection at a time that would be knocked out of service but immediately booth intersections were knocked out so that means there's no street access to my business or the others next to me.

LM: Being a daycare, people aren't stopping to drop their kids off because there's construction. There hasn't been a loss of business but there are some things that have become more challenging. Sometimes the noise is hard with the kids napping. Package delivery has also been harder for us. That being said the construction have gone over and above. Last week the construction guys brought one of my orders to the back because the delivery guy couldn't get in.

Have you had to make any adjustments while trying to attract business through the construction process?

AB: We haven't had to make very many adjustments at all. We aren't as directly impacted as other businesses. I guess the only thing would be parking is limited right now.
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CE: We blast social media every week that we are open. We use word of mouth. I have to tell all my accommodation guests. In today's word if accommodation customers are unhappy they don't tell you, they tell the world. It's all about reviews. On my online booking pages, it's stated on all of them and when somebody phones direct I warn them right away. I have no choice. We just keep going. We're open through the construction and we're doing what we can. We make sure to thank everyone who braves the construction.

CW: No because I'm not dependent on walk in traffic so people are calling or emailing for their orders. I’m starting to actively market the business as well but that is mostly business-to-business. Most of what I do can be handled over the phone and through email. The only thing is I have my own map that I send out for how to get to me for picking up orders and when I do that they aren't having a problem getting to me.

LM: It's trickier to guide people to the daycare. I've had to walk down the street and guide people in because there's no signage stating that me and other businesses are still in business. There were times I could see people but they couldn't figure out how to get to the back.

While the construction may be unfortunate now, do you think it will help your business in the long run?

CE: I sure hope so. I expect to stop getting reviews of 'really great place to stay too bad the neighbourhood is so run down.' I expect that to go away. The verdict is still out because until you actually see the final design in full life we just don't know for sure. We have concerns about the amount of parking that's been taken away because of the fancy pullouts. It will be what it will be and I can't say for sure until I actually see it.

CW: If I see that there is a lot of tourist traffic because of the Coleman Revitalization then I may rethink my business plan and I may start producing some giftware. I would re-jig the front of my shop as a small retail gift shop but I've got to see that there is the traffic first.

LM: I think it will be a benefit in the long run. My biggest reason is for that is if my pipes don't freeze next year. That was a huge challenge this year. If the primary goal was to change the waterlines and then the revitalization was the bonus for that, the fact that my waterlines may not freeze next year would probably be the biggest asset.
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June 6th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 23
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