South Surrey restaurant owners Sheila and Batty Cox say ongoing City of Surrey construction is driving their business into the ground.
Friday morning, for the third time since August, the couple arrived at their 2181 160 St. Sheila’s Bistro to find work crews and equipment blocking their main access, and that of a handful of other businesses.
Unlike previous work in August, the Coxes claim they received no notice of Friday’s paving, which diverted traffic about a half-block north of their parking lot entrance.
“I have a dump truck tilted at a 45-degree angle in front of my restaurant,” Batty Cox said. “It’s the last straw. It’s put me out of business.”
City officials, however, say the sudden work was necessary and that verbal notice was given.
“We had to give short-duration notice,” Surrey’s construction manager, Scott Neuman, said Monday, noting the urgency was due to specific weather conditions required for the repaving. “The contractor actually went around door-to-door… the morning of.”
Cox argued the work should have been done overnight or delayed until spring, but Neuman said the first option wasn’t possible due to the temperature needed, and the second would have added to the city’s overall project cost, as it was the final piece that needed to be done.
Deferring it would have delayed payment to the contractor, which would’ve have created interest charges.
“It would’ve delayed his whole contract (and) held up about $400,000 in money that we owed the contractor,” Neuman said.
Batty Cox estimates the decisions have cost him and his wife $600 to $1,200 per day in lost revenue – losses that, to date, total more than $35,000.
“To a small mom-and-pop restaurant, that’s huge,” he said.
The impact was felt even when notice was given, Cox said, as awareness of a back entrance to the restaurant’s parking lot is minimal to none.
Neighbouring businesses approached by Peace Arch News said they haven’t experienced the same level of impact, but sympathize with the Coxes.
“It is really unfortunate for Sheila’s,” said Rose Adams, manager of nearby Original Joe’s, outside of which on Friday morning, orange cones and a flag person directed traffic to turn west off of 160 Street.
“It deters people,” Adams said. “They see the construction (and say), ‘I don’t want to bother.’”
While Neuman said the city is “not trying to negatively impact any residents or businesses,” Cox said Friday’s work cemented a decision he and his wife made in September to start looking for somewhere else for their restaurant and catering business.
“The City of Surrey is not the best place,” Cox said. It “has no care for any small business.”