Nova Scotia

Sydney pub owner hopes pain of summer construction season will bring long-term gain

A pub owner in Sydney, N.S., is concerned a plan to revitalize the downtown business district will temporarily have the opposite effect on his establishment.

Daniel’s Alehouse on Charlotte Street is a block away from the Nova Scotia Community College campus that’s being built on the waterfront.

Pub owner Danny Ellis is looking forward to the college opening this fall — and the potential of new customers — but he’s worried about work to rebuild the street, which had a section of sidewalk leading to the pub removed as part of NSCC’s construction.

“It’s like a double whammy for us,” said Ellis.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality has gotten the contractor to reopen the section of sidewalk that had been closed, but it remains torn up. 

Depending on summer traffic and delivery of supplies, Ellis said he may have to take a drastic step and close for four or five months.

“To be open and not be accessible for our suppliers and our customers is an issue,” he said, adding that he’s spoken with his staff and bank, and has decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

Danny Ellis says he’s taking a wait-and-see approach, but work on Charlotte Street this summer may make delivery of supplies difficult and could drive away customers. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

CBRM spokesperson Jenna MacQueen said construction is disruptive, but with two phases of Charlotte Street redevelopment already done, the municipality is working with businesses and contractors to try to ease the pain. 

“We’re definitely learning as we’re going, and we’re hoping to make as many improvements as possible to make this go as smooth as possible,” she said.

The college’s contractor has been detouring vehicle traffic on the Esplanade — the main street leading to downtown Sydney’s waterfront — for two weeks while the new buildings were connected to municipal sewer and water.

A city street is shown with a chain-link fence blocking a construction site next to a stone-covered sidewalk marked by orange plastic traffic cones.
NSCC’s contractor opened up a section of sidewalk after blocking it for at least two years, which a spokesperson says demonstrates CBRM is listening to business owners. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

CBRM had alerted the public, saying the Esplanade would be down to one lane for a week, but the project took double that amount of time and the street was closed for several days last week without any notice.

MacQueen said the contractor ran into unexpected delays and CBRM is working with the company to alert the public when detours and delays are necessary.

She said the Esplanade was expected to reopen last Friday, but it will have to shut down in May or June for some paving.

A map with arrows and instructions shows what the effect of construction will be on some city streets.
CBRM has created a graphic to show how traffic will be affected while workers finish the final phase of Charlotte Street redevelopment this summer. (Cape Breton Regional Municipality)

Meanwhile, two blocks of Charlotte Street between Wentworth and Townsend streets closed Monday and reconstruction is expected to end in August.

The street work, which includes wider sidewalks, trees, benches and planters, will finish off the three-phase redevelopment of the downtown business district. A key part of that effort is the new NSCC campus.

Ellis said he expects business at the pub to pick up in the fall when the campus opens, bringing more than 1,000 students and staff into the neighbourhood.

“It should be a huge boom for us, so we hope that the short-term pain is a long-term gain,” Ellis said.

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