'It's like a root canal,' Business owners impacted by Huntsville rejuvenation project

The Town of Huntsville is in the fifth month of its massive project to rejuvenate the downtown core.

The main artery of the small Muskoka town is blocked to traffic, forcing tourists and residents to take detours while businesses remain open.

"The access is still open, you can't drive in front of the store, but we are creating as much parking as we can on the back streets. We encourage people to come downtown and visit your favourite business," said Stephen Hernen, operations director for the town.

In the middle of the Diggin' Downtown project is The Record Shoppe.

Co-owner Trevor Marshall said the construction took away the quick pick-up, which he said is a big part of their business, especially as the province reopens.

"It's like getting a root canal. When we're in the chair, we might as well have a second one at the same time," said Marshall about the pandemic year and the recent construction.

Marshall said that even though the construction is impacting business, the town council and BIA have kept him informed on the project.

"Once this is all done, and the cages go away, and the road is back together, it's going to look fantastic," said Marshall.

According to the town, aside from the new sewer and water pipes beneath Main Street, the project will include upgraded lights, sidewalks, Muskoka chairs scattered around the downtown area and green spaces for residents and tourists to enjoy.

The multi-stage project is in stage two, and the town hopes to be in stage three further up Main Street in August.

"We were supposed to be open back in December, but we had some stumbling blocks hit us," said new Main Street business owner Mike McAvan who will have his portion of the street blocked in the coming stages.

Music on Main, a rock-and-roll-inspired coffee and bagel shop, was put on hold not only because of the pandemic but also because McAvan said he suffered a stroke in the winter.

Since then, he's been rehabilitating and working on finishing the shop.

He said it's nearly complete, and he's hopeful, come late July or early August, he'll be up and running.

Although his block could be closed to traffic during his grand opening, he is remaining positive.

"There's a lot of traffic problems going on right now, but it's small-time pain for a long-term gain," said McAvan.

He said Music on Main will sell coffee, baked goods and guitars and equipment, plus offer lessons and a recording studio. It's a dream that McAvan said has been a long time coming.

According to the town, the entire downtown Huntsville rejuvenation project will be complete before next summer.