An impromptu road closure in Hyde Park is significantly impacting businesses in west London, Ont., according to the local Business Improvement Association (BIA).
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The City of London announced on Friday that Hyde Park Road would be closed between Gainsborough Road and Sarnia Road from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8 for work to connect sewer and water services as part of a new housing development project at 1420 Hyde Park Rd., located near South Carriage Road.
“Due to the location of this infrastructure beneath the road, it was not possible to maintain traffic in front of this property,” the city wrote in an email to Global News. “All businesses on Hyde Park Road remain open and accessible, and drivers will continue to have local access to all businesses while this work is underway.”
But Donna Szpakowski, CEO and general manager of the Hyde Park BIA, said businesses are already feeling the effects of the closure.
“We’ve already got some of our businesses that have reached out on Monday that have noticed a noticeable reduction in sales,” she said. “While the closure is not quite as large as we had initially thought, it still makes it impossible for people to get through to businesses going north.”
Szpakowski stressed that the closure was “unexpected and came with zero warning.”
“There was literally just a few days’ notice,” she said.
The closure also comes during a busy time for holiday shoppers, which Szpakowski said adds another layer of frustration towards the construction.
“The fact that they were closing the road during one of the highest retail sales times of the year is flabbergasting,” she said.
The city told Global News that they “recognize December is a time when many people wish to visit businesses in this area on Hyde Park Road,” assuring shoppers that “access to all businesses is being maintained while this work is underway.”
But Ward 7 Coun. Corrine Rahman said she’s been hearing a different story from residents in the area.
“I probably spent three hours on the phone Monday talking to residents and businesses about their concerns around this road closure,” she said. “One of the big things I’m hearing is the impact on businesses, especially because of the confusion over some of the signage and where the closure is taking place.
“I’m also hearing general frustration delays of 65 minutes to get home in the area,” she continued. “A lot of the local roads around Hyde Park had been experiencing considerable backup and so there has been concern about people’s commute.”
Rahman, who also sits as a member of the Hyde Park BIA, said the construction is a part of private contract work, detailing some of her own frustrations about trying to clarify details of the closure.
“I had to ask for more clarity and that clarity wasn’t fully provided by the city and by the contractor until Friday morning, which I think also led to some challenges” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of time for businesses to notify their customers, which is really unfortunate.”
Rahman stressed that “as a city, we need to do better and make sure that we give ample time.”
“We need to look at our communication strategy and do a better job of making sure that not only the business community, but the BIAs and local residents receive more time to understand what the closure will mean, and how to plan their routes accordingly,” she said. “I also think that there needs to be an expectation of staff presence or individual precedence of people in the area when these kinds of closures are happening. Relying on signage sometimes isn’t enough.
“I’ve been working with city staff to share some of the concerns I’m hearing from residents and businesses. My goal is to try to help minimize those impacts (and) hopefully improve the situation going forward.”
In light of the holiday shopping season, she concluded that residents are also a key part of helping businesses navigate these road closures because of growth in the city.
“We all have a role to play in helping to support our local businesses, especially during the holiday season,” she said. “If there’s a way to add a few minutes onto our time to be able to stop into your local business and show them support, I think that would be helpful at this time as well.”
Drivers are reminded to follow temporary traffic signage, detour routes and posted speed limits.
LTC Route 19 will be detoured via Sarnia, Aldersbrook and Gainsborough roads. The latest detour information can be found on the London Transit Detours and Stop Closures page.
The southbound bike lane will also be closed through the work area near South Carriage Road, but the northbound bike lane will be open. Pedestrian access will not be impacted.
More information about the closure can be found on the City of London website.
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