Businesses along West Victoria Street hopeful construction project goes smoothly

By Adam Donnelly
April 12, 2019 - 5:10pm

KAMLOOPS — It’s one of the oldest sections of the city, and it’s about to get a much-needed upgrade.

Victoria Street West is on the verge of a vast construction project which will see the utilities like the water and sewer pipes replaced, the electric and telecom lines buried, and traffic flow issues along the street addressed.

The signs are up. Utility work has started. On Monday, construction begins on the City’s Victoria Street West Infrastructure and Corridor Improvement Project. 

“The primary reason for this project are the underground utilities,” the City’s Capital Projects Manager Darren Crundwell explains. “In this area, they’re some of the oldest in town. They actually date back to the early-1900’s.”

Crundwell recognizes the two-year project will have a significant impact on traffic through the vital corridor that links the north and south shores of the Thompson River; according to Crundwell, the City is focusing on lessening the impact on area businesses, as they’ve learned some crucial lessons about that impact from significant construction projects of the past.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can on the schedule and getting things done as quickly as we can,” Crundwell says. “It’s impacting [these businesses], and we realize that.”

According to some of those businesses that will be affected by the construction, the city has done an excellent job communicating about the possible impacts the project is likely to cause.

“They are doing a really good job of taking care of us,” Tony Coueffin of Andre’s Tire World says. “[They’re] making sure there’s lots of communication, giving us lots of notice before anything happens. They had a good meeting on it a couple of weeks ago.”

Mindy Sandhu and Nina Johal, who own Sister’s Sleep Gallery and The Stereo Warehouse both attended that open house, and say the communication for this project has helped put any fears they might have to bed.

“We talked to the actual construction company that’s going to be working on that actually made us feel quite a bit better because they were very thorough,” Johal says.

Crundwell says while the majority of the project costs will go to replacing infrastructure that’s over a century old, the corridor improvements will make a massive difference to the flow of traffic and the overall feel of the area.

“60 to 70 per cent of the costs on this project are for critical utilities, essential services,” Crundwell says. “The other 30% is improvements. We’re improving the pedestrian corridor, separated sidewalks on both sides, new lighting, lots of landscaping… It’s going to be a huge improvement for this corridor, I think, and for the city.”

For businesses like the Stereo Warehouse and Sister’s Sleep Gallery, or Andre’s Tire World, the hope is that customers are willing to brave the construction zone to continue shopping locally and that a little short-term pain is worth the long-term gain the improvements will bring about.

“It’s always nice to see the city putting money tiny Kamloops,” Coueffin says. “It going make the workflow for traffic even nicer. Plus, no potholes.”

“We just want to focus on the finished project,” Mindy Sandhu says. “I know we’re going to have hydro interruptions; we’re going to have telephone interruptions, we’re going to have all these interruptions. That’s not the focus. The focus is the finished project.”

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