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‘We’re all business as usual:’ 17 Avenue event set to boost area foot traffic during construction

Shop owners are hurting along 17 Avenue SW, and one area proprietor hopes an upcoming event reminds customers the popular Calgary strip is still open for business.

Road and utility upgrades in the corridor have been ongoing since the spring of 2017, with recent work shutting down three busy blocks in the area.

Danielle Hadden, owner of Danielle’s Consignment on 17th Ave, said there’s been consumer confusion over whether or not businesses were open during construction.

17th Avenue SW is open for business despite ongoing construction work restricting traffic flow in the area. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Indeed they are.

On June 1, 17th Avenue will host its second annual VIP Shop Hop, an event that has some shop owners hoping it can increase foot traffic during the construction.

Hadden said she thought the event will help drive customers back to the area.

“It’s bringing people down to 17th Avenue to show them we’re all open, we’re all business as usual,” she said.

Hadden said her business has been lucky to not be overly impacted from the construction, but from talking to other owners, she knows businesses are hurting. Last year’s inaugural Shop Hop brought in new customers, she said.

Esther Kelly, executive director of the 17th Avenue Business Improvement Area (BIA), said the Shop Hop was created as a sort of celebration of 17th Ave to support local businesses and boutiques. Kelly said some shops are putting on special promotions, customers will get vouchers, and she expects the day to be exciting for everyone who chooses to come down.

“They even get limo rides around the area, so they don’t have to contest with navigating the construction, and Calgary Parking Authority is also going to validate their parking so they don’t have to pay if they choose to come down.”

Hadden said what some people don’t understand about the construction is that it’s necessary to preserve 17th Avenue well into the future. The system being used now, she said, is over 100 years-old and that’s what’s being replaced.

The City of Calgary project website states that 17th Ave is getting “new utility, road, and electrical infrastructure.” Construction restarted on May 21 between 8th Street and 10A Street and it’s expected to take three weeks to complete.

The site also states that it is working with the 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District to ensure people are aware that businesses are still open and how they can navigate the area during construction.

The VIP Shop Hop goes ahead June 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tomkins Park on 17 Avenue SW.