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Concerns raised ahead of Dunlop streetscape project's next phase

'Some people are understandably nervous about having the construction run in front of their business,' says Downtown BIA official

The next phase of the Dunlop Street construction project was discussed at a meeting Wednesday, with fears, concerns and questions being raised and addressed by a variety of project experts. 

Downtown business owners met Wednesday morning with city staff, representatives from Arnott Construction and the Downtown Barrie Business Improvement Association (BIA) at the Sandbox Centre to discuss the upcoming work to be done along Dunlop Street from Owen to Clapperton streets. 

Construction on the first phase, from Mulcaster to Owen streets, took place in the fall and winter of 2019 and it now needs a bit of touching up.

From March until June, new streetlights, trees and planters will be installed, resulting in some lane closures.

The next stage of the Dunlop Street revitalization project will occur from March to July and will see no through traffic from Mulcaster to Clapperton. Local traffic is permitted, but drivers will need to do a three-point turn in order to head back from the Dunlop/Mulcaster intersection and head west on Dunlop.

BIA office and events administrator Stacey Zubcyzk said the meeting was important not just for unity, but also for quelling any fears business owners may have.

“It was great to have everyone in the room so those who have been through the first phase can offer thoughts and advice to those who are about to see the next phase,” Zubcyzk said.

“Some people are understandably nervous about having the construction run in front of their business, but it is so important to express we are all in this together

One of the concerns raised was that of the popular patio season. Patio season will be delayed east of Owen Street from April until approximately June. However, there will not be a patio season in 2020 for businesses from Owen to Toronto Street. 

Zubcyzk says one thing being looked at was a sectioned area in Meridian Place for restaurants to have their patrons take their food and eat. 

Tracey Baker, who owns Zuzu Fashion Boutique on Dunlop Street East, is one person whose business will be affected by a construction zone outside their front door.

Baker told BarrieToday she has heard decent reviews about the effect of the first phase.

“A lot of it is anecdotal, so it is hard to say that’s the way it was,” Baker said. “But the overall message I’ve heard from the first phase was that the businesses did not suffer as much as they were fearing they would.

"There was obviously some impact, but it was not a lot," she added. “No matter what, this work needs to be done, so we have to be ready for it, work together and do this.”

The following phase runs from July to September and will see closures from the Five Points intersection to Toronto Street as work is done throughout different sections in that area.

The Chase McEachern Way and Maple Avenue Central parking lots will have two-hour free parking starting in March. Anyone using the lots will have to print a ticket and display it. 

No events downtown will be cancelled due to construction and there is a website dedicated to events, potential road closures, updates and FAQs and contact information.

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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