With the warmer weather fast approaching, businesses are preparing for construction to start on the Downtown Revitalization Project. 

After the city defended the project and its viability last week, the Estevan Downtown Business Association (DBA) and the local Business Improvement District board expressed their support. 

"Have you ever driven through a town and think 'Oh, what a cute little town! Gee, I'd like to stop here.' I think that's what I'd like to see happen is somebody drive through and say 'Hey, let's stop here. Let's snoop around the shops. Let's go for a bite to eat.' [and] you know, bring the tourists in and have them stop. I also would like to see this become a hub for people in the city. So things going on in the evening, activities, places to sit, places to visit, walking around. Downtown is really the heart of any city," shared Laurel Buck, chair of the Estevan DBA. 

Buck owns A&A Jewellery on the two-block stretch of 4th Street where the construction will be done. She notes that, outside of one concern, businesses have been receptive to the plan. 

"I think the only concern is during that [construction is] when our front is shut down. Most of us have access to back doors, so the people, you know, customers will be able to come in the back door. But I think that as far as what I've heard, that's is only our concern is getting through those months when we're we don't have access from our front."

Buck added that the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term disruption and that DBA members are aware of its impacts. 

In a statement sent to DiscoverEstevan, Barry O'Handley, chair of the local Business Improvement District, provided clarity on the money being spent on the project.

"If someone came to your house and told you you could renovate the front of your house and fully landscape your yard for 15% of the cost, you wouldn't need to speak to your financial advisor to know that's a great deal. Of course, you would do it. Main Street is like the City's house, and someone has shown up and offered to renovate it for 15% of the cost. That's a smart decision. And while it's true the City is paying the $1.5 million to redo the water and sewer system, that would have to be done in the next few years anyway, but the repaving and surface work will be paid for with the Federal grant. And if we don't accept the grant money, it would go elsewhere, to a different community, so why wouldn't we use it."

"I think that's that's mostly a like if you build it, they will come situation. So I think they have done lots of research about communities growing when you start in the business core and build that core and make it accessible, make it a place where people can come and get to easily - and it grows. It grows communities. Research has been done that it will grow exponentially if you start in that center. And I think that was the impetus for this plan," Jenny Pettit added. 

Pettitt owns Jenny Joans on 4th Street and is also a member of the Downtown Business Association. She added that the four to five months of construction will still be a grind. 

"I know we're going to be all probably cursing it at some point. I do see it as just a short-term pain for the gain we're going to have when this is all done. I think we just are going to have to get through it. We're looking at ways, as the business community, to attract people to the entrances in the back alley, so people can still access us. But we're going to have to support each other and really find ways to keep going through it."

"I think [the DBA are] all looking forward to the fresh, new way it's going to look and we're happy for this opportunity. It's a big deal, it's a big windfall for us. I feel we have to look at it in the positive way. I haven't heard much negative from the business community, so I think we're ready for it." -Jenny Pettitt on the project ahead of construction.

The City of Estevan has been in conversations with different businesses in the area and concerns were raised as to how to access the businesses and redirect traffic during the construction of the area. 

"So part of the RFQ (request for qualification) for a contractor is for them to provide a traffic accommodation as part of their bid. We have had initial discussions with our engineering firm on what that looks like, but that will be a discussion with the general contractor that gets involved as well. And, there will be full communication with the downtown businesses and how they're impacted and it will be presented out to the public once that's finalized," City Manager Jeff Ward shared. 

Ward added that regardless of whether a business is part of the DBA or not, the city will directly consult them as plans are being drawn up for the development of the area.  

"The timelines on what will be accessible from [the] front sidewalk will be clarified when there will be no access from the front at all, when the back alleys will be the main focus. [All] that will all be determined as we deal with the contractor and finalize these plans. We should be having a list of interested contractors in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, we can start discussing specifics with many of those businesses downtown that may have some issues and rectify and mitigate any impact to their businesses as much as possible."

Pettitt added that the project and fixing the issues lurking under 4th Street were inevitable. 

"The infrastructure and all of that needed to be reworked. That was something that was going to happen in the next five years, as I understand. And so this is a way for us to get that done as needed. This street, whenever there's a big rain, it is an absolute mess -businesses flood. It's something that is needed to be done for so so long. This is the way for us to get that done and have help with the paying of it. If we were going to have a street dug up, we're not going to put it back the way it was. Now, we have this gift that we're going to use and put it towards making the downtown a beautiful place that's inclusive and easy to access."

The city is currently in the process of choosing a contractor to build the project. Ward assured that more information will be released to the public in the next few weeks.