Downtown businesses celebrate surviving Jasper Ave construction

EDMONTON – The construction on Jasper Avenue has been tough on businesses over the past year. But on Friday, those on the north side of the strip came together to try to win back some of the business they claim they lost to the construction.

Upgrades shut down not only the busy stretch of road, but also the sidewalk for about a year; that’s twice as long as it was supposed to take.

“It’s been tough,” admitted Alysha Pare from the Underground Tap and Grill, which opened in October, around the time the construction was originally scheduled to be completed.

The work didn’t get finished until April, though.

“And now we’re just starting to get a busier lunch,” Pare said as she served up free samples in an effort to bring even more people into the eatery.

Several other businesses were also on the Avenue Friday afternoon, offering complementary goodies to re-acquaint Edmontonians with their previously obscured companies.

Until last month, despite being located in the heart of downtown, the Underground Tap and Grill and other new businesses were having problems just being seen because of all the temporary fencing.

“Don’t get the calls anymore ‘I’m driving around Jasper Ave, and can’t find you,'” said Stephanie Van Den Biggelaar of De Dutch, a new breakfast place on 100th Street.

“They can drive by and see the sign so that’s pretty significant,” she added.

However, not everyone is celebrating the completion of the road upgrades. Brad Basaraba, a chiropractor, is actually considering taking legal action over the finished product.

“They’ve taken away all the parking, and the handicap parking,” he says, explaining some of his patients are having a hard time with the situation.

“They even struggle on the sidewalk because the sidewalks have a curve to it and the bricks stick up. So people with walkers are catching their feet on them. It’s just really too far, that extra block or two is just too much.”

Construction has now moved to the south side of Jasper Avenue, and city officials say it’s on schedule to be completed by the end of October.

Nathan Stelmach, with the City of Edmonton, feels this year has been a little easier for road crews than the last.

“Once you’ve done something once, I think you get a better appreciation of what’s ahead of you,” he said. “There’s a learning curve in any project.”

According to Stelmach, ETS is scheduled to come back on Jasper Avenue on October 31st, with work continuing in the station until December 15.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News

© 2013 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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