Although some business owners aren’t too happy with the large road construction project starting May 26 on 51 Avenue in the core of downtown Ponoka, the town says pedestrian access will be maintained.
The project, which will see the excavation of the road between 50 Street and 51 Street, will include replacement of underground water service connections, sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure the town said have reached the end of their life cycle.
Construction is expected to be ongoing for six or seven days a week and to continue into late fall.
While the project has been in the works for several years, some business owners feel they weren’t given sufficient notice or information.
Sherry Gummow, owner of Busted Ladies Lingerie on 51 Ave., spoke to council during their regular meeting on May 10 on behalf of other business owners.
“The past two years have been trying for most independent businesses,” said Gummow. “Many of us are just now seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels for foot traffic that were were accustomed to.”
Gummow said businesses received a written notice mid-April and the promised follow-up contact with each business had not yet taken place.
“Our biggest concerns are we don’t know what’s happening.”
She stated that out of the 15 to 17 businesses on the street, 13 of them have front door entrances and owners needed more time in order to roll out plans to make alternative access fun and inviting for customers.
Administration responded more communication to affected businesses would come the following day.
In preparation for the start of the project, affected businesses posted their contingency plans for their customers on their social media pages.
Tantec Electronics Ltd. is offering back alley parking and access to their customers from their back door.
Customers can also use the parking lots east of the Pavilion restaurant and north of the post office.
The business will make adjustments as needed throughout the project and any updates will be posted on their social media.
“For those of you who are willing to brave the chaos and walk a little, we will be open for service,” said Sharon Weibel in a Facebook post.
Weibel is the owner of The Raspberry Patch on 51 Avenue.
For customers that call ahead, the eatery will bring orders out to them at the back entrance.
“As of yet I don’t have any other brighter ideas,” said Weibel.
The town released further information on the project on May 20.
In the release Mayor Kevin Ferguson said the redevelopment of 51 Avenue is “critical” for promoting economic development in Ponoka.
Once the excavation and infrastructure replacement is completed, the road base will be restored with new asphalt, and the sidewalks will be replaced and upgraded. Landscaping including shrubs and trees will be added.
On the south end of 51 Avenue, the town’s parking lot will be updated and improved.
While the town said they will work with businesses to coordinate customer access to businesses throughout the entire project, while sidewalks are being replaced, alternative access to businesses will need to be facilitated.
Public parking will be available in the town’s parking lot with access from the alley at 51 Street.
Redevelopment and improvements to this parking lot will occur near the end of the project. At that time, 51 Avenue will reopen for on-street parking.
Overflow parking is also available in the municipal parking lot at 52 Avenue and 51 Street across from the Ponoka United Church.
Updates on the project will be provided on the town’s website at www.ponoka.ca.