‘How much more can we take?’: Lockhart Road construction in Innisfil impacts businesses

·2 min read

It’s been a challenging year for small-business owners, and the challenges keep coming for businesses located in a commercial plaza on Lockhart Road.

The town of Innisfil, in partnership with InnServices and Parkbridge, has been undertaking a road reconstruction and servicing project on Lockhart Road. The two-and-a-half-year project started in 2019, with the bulk of the work expected to be complete in 2020.

Road shouldering, the final layer of asphalt, and line painting will be completed in 2021, the town said.

For Robert Saunders, owner of The Cove Cafe, the construction has caused almost as much trouble to his business as the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns did.

“This construction shut us off from everything for the last two months,” he said, noting other business in the same plaza are experiencing similar challenges. “Nobody wants to come up the road in their cars and they don't want to dine in.”

Detours set up because of the construction make it difficult to get to the restaurant and are also impacting Saunders' delivery business.

“Normally a five-minute delivery is now a 25-minute delivery,” he said.

Saunders said the construction contract states that Lockhart Road closures should end Oct. 30, but he is concerned that is not going to happen.

“Depending on the weather, the intersection at Lockhart Road from the 25th Sideroad may remain closed for the remainder of the week,” Jessica Jenkins, capital engineering lead, wrote in an email, adding the town is working with the contractor to minimize the need for extended road closures. “However, in order to continue to complete the work as expeditiously as possible for completion by the end of 2020, consideration of allowing full closures beyond October 30th may be required.”

Saunders is left feeling frustrated and helpless.

“How much more can we take?” he said. “I made it through COVID, but now it's like this is so beyond my control, there's nothing I can do about the road.”

The Cove Cafe is located at 902 Lockhart Rd.

Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance