‘It’s just killed my business’: Bay Bulls Road construction forces furniture store to relocate

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Kirk Fleming has run his furniture business on Bay Bulls Road for eight years, but prolonged road construction in the area is forcing him to shut the doors.

He said his sales have declined 60 per cent since the city began tearing up the road to install sewer infrastructure. The project started last fall and is expected to conclude next year.

“People are not driving through, there’s no traffic, so I’ve decided now that…I’ve got to close my store in Kilbride, and try to find another location,” Fleming told The Telegram in a telephone interview on Friday, Nov. 25.

“It’s nuts that this (construction) is still ongoing … everyone is saying to me, ‘Kirk, no wonder no one is going to your business.’”

Fleming said when the construction first began last fall, the first month or so was the worst for his business because a sign went up saying the road was open to local traffic only. He said his customers thought they weren’t allowed through, so he said it took some pleading to finally get a small sign put up at the start of the construction zone with the name of his business, Fleming’s New Furniture.


“It’s nuts that this (construction) is still ongoing … everyone is saying to me, ‘Kirk, no wonder no one is going to your business.’”

— Kirk Fleming


He said his ward councillor Carl Ridgley has been helpful bringing the issue up at City Hall, but otherwise he feels he’s received little support from the city.

“Everybody else is (saying), ‘This is what it is. It’s been done on Kenmount Road, it’s been done on Torbay Road, been done on whatever other roads in the city. And I said, ‘Yes, I know…but it’s just killed my business,” he said.

Construction Friday afternoon, Nov. 25, near Purcell’s Turn, just up the road from Fleming’s New Furniture in the Kilbride area of St. John's. - Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Construction Friday afternoon, Nov. 25, near Purcell’s Turn, just up the road from Fleming’s New Furniture in the Kilbride area of St. John’s. – Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

 

City tries to mitigate impacts

In an emailed statement on Friday, a City of St. John’s spokesperson said that with projects of this nature, the city will reach out to local businesses in advance to discuss upcoming work.

“The City also makes an effort to mitigate impacts to business in the area during construction by ensuring access is maintained at all times. Staff and the contractor will also work with business owners to address concerns when they arise. We apologize for any inconvenience or disruption to business during construction and we encourage businesses to continue to reach out to our engineering staff to discuss their concerns,” the spokesperson said.

Fleming said the experience has been very stressful for him and his family.

“I’m very frustrated, and I think I might not sound like it on the phone, but other people would be cursing, swearing, going crazy, but I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I mean, there’s a lot of other people got troubles like I do, too,” he said.

Fleming said he appreciates the customers who have stuck with him throughout the construction, and he’s having a sale right now to cut down on the amount of furniture he’ll have to move to a new location.

Resident complaint

Fleming is not the only person to highlight the negative effect of the construction. Last month, The Telegram published a letter from a resident named Tom Badcock who likened the experience to a battle zone.

“As part of my military career, I have lived in battle zones, and for the past two years, those of us residing on the southern part of Bay Bulls Road have been living in what can only be referred to as a battle zone,” Badcock wrote in a letter published Oct. 6.

Badcock said that, by his count, the road has been dug up and covered again six times in two years. He described constant dust from the gravel road, residents needing ramps to get into their driveways, constant noise from generators, and flat tires from the pothole-riddled roads.


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