Work has begun on the Victoria Street resurfacing project and some downtown shop owners are already seeing a hit in the number of customers.
Orange barricades blocked traffic from the 100 and 200 blocks of Victoria on Monday morning. Bags marked "No Parking" covered the meters.
A few pedestrians wandered the sidewalks and crossed the streets. Caffe Motivo owner Ian Harding told The Daily News his business has slowed.
While his regulars still came in for a coffee or snack, Harding estimated a 15 to 20 per cent drop in the number of customers who walked through his front door on Monday.
"It's the driving traffic using us as a destination. That's where we'll suffer a bit," said Harding.
Harding plans to play things by ear, he said. The next few weeks will be tough, but he won't know how tough for a couple of days or even a week.
"As a business owner we've just got to suck it up a bit," he said.
The resurfacing of Victoria is expected to take until the end of the month. Block closures will occur on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays until paving is complete. The sidewalks and crosswalks will be torn up and the paving bricks replaced.
This will cause some inconvenience, said Harding. But he's confident the end result will be worth it.
"We already have the best looking downtown in the province. Doing this, it's going to be even better," said Harding.
The closure also played havoc on downtown traffic. Tala Clothing owner Ish Bayabu said her commute to work took at least 10 minutes longer than normal.
She parks at the parkade on Seymour Street and found the line-up of cars, trucks and SUVs intolerable, said Bayabu. Her customers also complained about the congestion, saying it took several circuits of the block to find a place to park.
"It was a bit annoying for them," she said.
But business at Tala was on par with an average Monday, said Bayabu. She has her fingers crossed that things won't slow down as the days pass.
At this point, the bulk of the construction includes replacing or repairing sewer lines, curbs and gutters. Jim McNeely, City streets and environmental services manager, said that work should wrap up on Wednesday.
Two blocks will be worked on at a time and crews will do their best to limit the disruption to businesses, he said. That includes working around the launch party for the new CBC bureau on Monday morning.
"They're trying to make accommodations as best they can," said McNeely.