Bayfield, Ont. businesses brace for 'necessary evil' of downtown rebuild

Not many people in Bayfield’s business community are particularly excited that half of the town’s historic Main Street is currently under construction.

“Oh gosh, should we get into that. I guess, I’d call it a necessary evil, to put it plainly,” said Connie Elliott, from The Spotted Cow-Home Decor.

From now until June, a portion of Bayfield will be a construction zone while the entire Main Street gets a complete makeover, including new sewers, hydro lines, sidewalks, drainage and decor.

“It’s an inconvenience obviously, but I think overall when everything is done, everyone is going to be really happy,” said Leanne Kavanagh, head of Bayfield and area’s Chamber of Commerce, as well as co-owner of ShopBike Coffee Roasters on Bayfield’s Main Street.

To try and limit the impact on Bayfield’s businesses, construction will actually stop for July and August, restarting again in September — lengthening the project timeline and increasing the budget to $2.8-million, but “worth it,” says Bayfield Coun. Bill Whetstone.

“At the end of the day, the number one goal is to keep the businesses open in Bayfield. I mean, that’s what makes Bayfield the jewel of Huron County tourism, right,” said Whetstone.

That’s all much appreciated said Elliott, but all this construction would have been better, a year ago.

“It would have been nice if they’d done this while we were all shut down. Being a tourist area, they’re not going to be done until the end of June. We were hoping they’d end in May, and then start up in September, but there’s still going to be here in June. But, at least, you can still get to all the stores. There’s still parking,” said Elliott.

She says she’s noticed a drop in sales since construction started, and hopes that changes, as the warmer weather arrives, and construction pauses in July and August.

“Business is a little slower, but it is what it is, and I think in the end it will be good,” said Kerry Beyersbergen, from the Pink Flamingo Bakery and Boutique.

“We’ve waited so long for this. It’s been in the works since the early ‘80s, so to see it come to fruition I think is amazing. I think all the businesses will appreciate a fully accessible, beautiful downtown for everyone to enjoy,” said Kavanagh.

It’s expected Bayfield’s Main Street revitalization project will be complete by May 2023.