Ottawa

Businesses still adjusting to Elgin Street closure

The first month of the year-long Elgin Street renewal project has wrapped, and business owners along the shuttered downtown artery are still adjusting to the new reality.

'Scrim's has been through a depression, I think we can get through a beautification,' business owner says

Elgin Street is full of holes and ramps between Somerset and Catherine streets as the first month of the renewal project comes to a close. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

The first month of the year-long Elgin Street renewal project has wrapped, and business owners along the shuttered downtown artery are still adjusting to the new reality.

Hallie Cotnam of CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning recently caught up with some of them, and here's what they had to say.

We check in with the strip's businesses one month into the shutdown. 9:34

Robin Coull, Pot & Pantry

I knew that Elgin Street would experience this renewal before I even signed my lease, so I've been preparing for a couple of years as much as you can.

One of things that I did was do postal code surveys at my cash, so when people came through I then could kind of figure out how many people were driving in, how many people were walking, did I need to advertise outside my current location, do mail outs, where did I need to focus my time making sure people knew about me to establish that regular clientele … I compared weekday and weekend traffic as well.

Most people, I'd say 75 per cent of our customers, are coming from walkable neighbourhoods around Elgin Street.

We can all get really down about construction. Instead, we decided we'd play with it a little bit. So we have some really fun puns out there and they're based on song lyrics about construction, and it's putting smiles on their face, which is exactly what we want.

Susan Murray, Scrim's Florist

We have absolutely got people whose grandmothers had their wedding bouquets done here, whose mothers had their wedding bouquets [done here] and now they're here to do their wedding bouquets … Scrim's has been through a depression, I think we can get through a beautification.

I am so hoping that we don't have this enormous hole in front of our front door for [Valentine's Day on] Feb. 14 because it is a very busy day for us.

So far the city been extremely responsive to requests from individuals, so I was literally on my way to email them to say 'I get it, but could we just have a walkway for the 14th.'

Kelly An, Ginza Ramen Sushi and Sake Bar

We are normally busy between 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. so we should have been a full house right now, but now it's half empty.

Just in general, people don't want to come to Elgin Street.

Actually we have cut down our service at night for weekends because usually we're really busy but now it's one server instead of two.

Minoo Banaei, Bel Fiore Flowers & Collectibles

This January was way less [busy] than last year, way way way. I put it on that [the construction].

Right now you see the bylaw officers, they are going around giving people tickets. Also because of the weather, [piles of snow] are there. 

I know it is difficult, I know it's a big problem with nature, Mother Nature, but they need to provide parking, really.

Quin Zhang, Oriental House Restaurant

Now we're trying to do some promotion for people coming to pick up or eat in.... We try to have that going, but don't know [how we'll do in the future].

We'll try to keep going but ... we hope some government or the city can help.

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning and Hallie Cotnam

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