Ashlea Fisher-Hurdle and her mother Leanne FIsher dropped off a couple carved pumpkin to join the other jack-o'-lanterns at the Pumpkins on Parade in Innisfail on Saturday.

Ashlea Fisher-Hurdle and her mother Leanne FIsher dropped off a couple carved pumpkin to join the other jack-o'-lanterns at the Pumpkins on Parade in Innisfail on Saturday.

Innisfail’s downton streets reopen, with class

INNISFAIL — Innisfail’s partially revitalized downtown was enjoyed by some early trick or treaters at Saturday’s second annual Pumpkins on Parade. Pumpkins car

INNISFAIL — Innisfail’s partially revitalized downtown was enjoyed by some early trick or treaters at Saturday’s second annual Pumpkins on Parade.

Pumpkins carved by residents and lit with battery operated tea lights decorated two blocks of 50th Street where work was completed in mid-september.

A cold wind had youngsters bundled in snow suites beneath their costumes as businesses handed out candy and welcomed the foot traffic after construction deterred local customers and visitors during the 18-week-long project.

“I have enough candy for about 700. Last year we had about 500. We’re thinking it’s going to be bigger this year because it’s a little nicer weather. Last year was very cold,” said Carol Ritten Smith, owner of Studio Arts Picture Framing and Scrapbooking.

She said most businesses were hit hard when the street was ripped up to replace water and sewer lines, widen sidewalks, plant trees and install street lamps. Removable benches and planters will be in place in the spring.

“There were days when no customers were on our street. It was like a ghost town. It was bad. We closed for two weeks and I could have closed for the whole month. And I wish I had.”

But the finished result has added some class to the street, Ritten Smith said.

The work is part of a three-year revitalization project that will see 50th Street rebuilt in sections from the centre of downtown to Hwy 2A on the town’s east side.

Ritten Smith and Danna Melnyk, owner of The Gift Loft both worry about the ripple effect their businesses will still have to endure.

Traffic will be re-routed onto the truck route that’s three blocks away when work continues.

“Will (customers) come back into our area or will they just keep going. We’ll be aggressive and try and lessen the impact as much as we can,” Melnyk said.

Events that bring people to the street, like Pumpkins on Parade, will be important, she said.

Tom Lindl, owner of Guitar & Entertainment, said several businesses opened their back doors to customers while work was going on in front and he would have liked some kind of summer back-alley party to draw people back there.

“My business really suffered over the summer. This would have been my first summer. But I’m still here. And I just won small business of the year for the Town of Innisfail. That’s pretty nice for my first year in business,” Lindl said.

Owners advised others who will face similar restrictions next year to keep advertising that they’re open.

“If at all possible have back entrances and places for people to park. Because I had back door access I really believe it helped. And be as positive as you can be,” Melnyk said.

Ritten Smith said she’d prefer the rest of the street work to be condensed.

“We asked them if they could put it all into one year and get it done. But it will be two more years.”

Mayor Jim Romane said the negative impact on businesses was anticipated, but the work was necessary.

“It’s to try and give a more inviting atmosphere to come and shop downtown. We’ve got three or four empty buildings. We have to do something to encourage businesses to come back and consider the downtown area,” Romane said.

And the work came in relatively on schedule and on budget, he said.

Craig Teal, the town’s director of planning and development, said access for the disabled was another problem the re-construction allowed businesses to address.

“At various door fronts leading into businesses we had issues with ramps and stairs. Some businesses picked up universal access to their businesses as we went through the process,” Teal said.

Costs for the first phase are still being tallied, but should be close to the $3.4 million budgeted. The second phase is estimated at about $2.5 to $3 million and about $1.5 to $2 million for the third phase, he said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the greater lag time between first and second doses will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. (File photo)
Alberta extends time between vaccine doses means more people to get shot sooner

National Advisory Committee on Immunization says doses can be to up to four months apart

People watch the sun set in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
OPEC cartel, allies face decision on increasing oil output

OPEC Plus made deep cuts in output in 2020 to stave off a collapse in prices

The Twitter Canada office in Toronto is shown in this undated handout photo. Twitter Inc. will be bulking up on Canadian talent this year with a hiring spree meant to add dozens of engineers in the country to its staff. The San Francisco, Calif.-based social media giant said Thursday that it plans to form its first Canadian engineering hub with at least 24 new workers it will soon hire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Twitter Canada
Twitter to launch engineering hub in Canada with dozens of hires this year

Twitter says technical talent has been evolving in the Canada recently

Jim Lowes, a living kidney donor who was inspired by Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Logan Boulet, is photographed at his home in Burlington, Ont., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Green Shirt Day, April 7, was started after the crash that killed 16 people and coincides with the anniversary of Logan Boulet’s death. Boulet’s family donated his organs after the crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Three years after Broncos bus crash, Logan Boulet still inspiring organ donation

Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in two months

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Detectives are looking at data from the so-called “black box” of Tiger Woods’ SUV to get a clearer picture of what occurred during the Southern California rollover crash last week that seriously injured the golf star, authorities said Wednesday, March 3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Detectives look at SUV’s ‘black box’ from Tiger Woods crash

California law allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for data recorders

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Alex Kurtzman, from left, Heather Kadin, Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green and Ethan Peck participate in the “Star Trek: Discovery” show panel during the CBS All Access presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif. Paramount+ debuts Thursday, March 4, 2021 as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. The company hopes its smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of its properties like “Frasier” and “Rugrats,” original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery” and the ViacomCBS library will entice viewers(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Will Paramount+ be a mountain or a molehill in streaming?

Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Most Read