Businesses rejoice after long closure
Tim Wieclawki/metro ottawa
Traffic is flowing on Bank Street again, but resentment still simmers among area business owners who feel they lost much of the Christmas selling season to a city-ordered road closure.
Many managers and owners of area businesses think it will still be several weeks before it is business as usual after the city reopened the Bank-Somerset streets intersection yesterday.
“It’ll take a little while,” said Kim Ramji, manager of the newly opened Atomic Rooster pub on Bank Street. “Hopefully people will be curious and want to come down after hearing the intersection is opened again.”
Ramji said while she’s happy to see traffic reopened before Christmas, the pub needs to work to rebuild its customer base.
While the city moved on Dec. 7 to ease traffic rules and reroute buses in the area to draw shoppers, many retailers said the municipal measures came too late. The intersection was first closed on Oct. 19.
Nazrul Rahman, owner of Bazmati restaurant on Somerset Street, said the closure had made it difficult for him to pay his bills.
“It’s damaged a lot,” he said. “I had a very hard time the last couple months. It was terribly dead.”
He’s hoping to see his restaurant return to life now that more people will be in the area.
Traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction at the intersection, since the sidewalk and part of the street around the unstable building it still barricaded.
Coun. Diane Holmes’ (Somerset) office said that parking in the area would remain free until January 2.
Wilde’s co-owner Robert Giacobbi, one of the most vocal proponents for the city to reopen the intersection, was “ecstatic” when he was able to drive through the intersection.
“So many dates have come and gone, I couldn’t really believe it until I saw it,” he said.
Giacobbi said city hall must keep helping area businesses to rebound by keeping incentives in place.
“The city owes it to businesses to do something,” he said, “I just hope they don’t say. It’s open now, our job is done, good-bye.”