ACT News

Bunda Street traders annoyed as ACT government stymies spring rush

City traders say the government's decision to close off Bunda Street for renovations in the middle of spring "doesn't make sense", as Canberrans head to the city to take advantage of the warm weather.

Renovations to the popular shopping strip were announced on September 20 by Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury and will turn the street into a combined space for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

Dolce and Salato manager Makayla Wyatt with staff member Michelle Robinson.
Dolce and Salato manager Makayla Wyatt with staff member Michelle Robinson. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Work began on the following Monday and the plan has received tentative approval from Canberra city shoppers.

But restaurant owners along Bunda Street said while they welcome the eventual transformation, the government had begun construction at the worst possible time.

Parts of Bunda Street have been closed to  traffic as the street is redeveloped.
Parts of Bunda Street have been closed to traffic as the street is redeveloped.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Dolce and Salato co-owner and spokeswoman Catherine Tinelli said the road had been fenced off the week after tourists began flooding into town for Floriade.

"We've had the best weather since. [There was] the long weekend where tours were coming to Canberra city, Canberrans are getting out again and then they're faced with this rubbish," she said. "It's just the wrong time."

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Manager Makayla Wyatt, who has worked on Bunda Street since Dolce and Salato opened in 2013, said spring had been the busiest she'd seen the street. "Hotter seasons are definitely busier," she said.

Mrs Tinelli said they believed the success of any strip mall precinct depended on passing vehicles and she was concerned the government might move towards shutting off the whole street.

"The evidence is in City Walk, Petrie Plaza and inside Garema Place; businesses in there at night don't perform that well," she said.

Cream co-owner Luca Dizillo said while in the long term he could see the benefits of the redevelopment, it should have been done in winter.

"By the time they finish it's going to be January and we're going to miss out on all that spring foot traffic. Also with Floriade, we're going to have tourists come in and yet in the middle of Civic we have a three-month job. It doesn't make sense," he said.

All shop owners said they had been briefed on the Bunda Street development by the government and shown plans of how it would look before they began.

Minister Rattenbury said construction work had been planned to minimise the impact on traders, with renovations to be undertaken throughout October and November before slowing down Christmas.

"[It will be] finalised during late January which is generally a quiet time in the city with many people away on holidays," he said.

He said the completed road would help revitalise Bunda Street and provide opportunities for the street, such as special community events or festivals as well as outdoor dining and cafes.

Mr Rattenbury said the ACT government had worked closely with traders on the Bunda Street redevelopment and would continue to do so.

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