Watermain work on St. Paul Street not good for business

The City of St. Catharines will be conducting a watermain replacement on St. Paul Street from Jan. 21 until sometime in May.
The replacement of the aging cast iron watermains with new 12-inch PVC pipe will involve the closing of one-block sections of St. Paul Street from Ontario Street to Court Street. Crews are expected to spend seven to 10 days on each block as they excavate trenches to lay the new pipe.
Pedestrians should note that sidewalks on St. Paul Street will remain open except when short sections need to close for safety reasons.
Fayaz Khan, Design and Construction Engineer for the City of St. Catharines said that although this is a major job, businesses along St. Paul Street are not expected to close. He said that this job is being undertaken in lieu of downtown’s revitalization initiative.
“We are just being proactive with everything else going on in downtown with the building of the spectator facility and the new arts centre. We want to complete the watermain replacement before everything else is done so that we have the whole package ready.”
Khan said that the bitter cold weather that has plagued Southern Ontario as of late is not helping in speeding up the process.
“[The cold weather] is affecting us. [On Jan. 22] the contractor came to the site; and it was so cold that some of the equipment was frozen and was not able to work, so they lost one day [of work] there,” said Khan. “Other than that, you can appreciate that it is really difficult for somebody to be out there digging and working in the trenches.”
Khan said that the City initially wanted to do the job in the summer or fall of last year, but when they spoke to the Downtown Association, they said that those are the busiest times of the year downtown. That is why the job was moved to the winter.
Kyle Paton, Owner and Chef of Rise Above Bakery & Catering on St. Paul Street said that the City has not lived up to the plans they initially laid out for the job, and it is causing a lot of trouble for businesses that are affected by it.
“It’s been brutal. The way that they’re supposed to do it is obviously not happening,” said Paton. “We were only supposed to be closed from Ontario Street to William Street, and it was supposed to go week by week and block by block, and it’s been closed from Ontario Street to James Street.”
Paton said the lack of parking available due to the job is having a detrimental effect on downtown restaurant business.
“The only places there are to park right now, after they took away the downtown street parking and the lower lot that got taken out for the arena, is the city parking garages,” said Paton. “Both of those are at the two far ends of downtown, so it becomes ridiculous to even grab a snack or anything from the downtown restaurants.”
Paton said that, after having spoken with other business owners, most of the businesses are suffering from this lack of parking.
“It’s been the talk of everyone, not knowing what the situation is. It’s supposed to be the revitalization of downtown, and I think it’s counterintuitive to put everyone out of business before they try and launch that.”  

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