Roadwork upsets local fruit stand

Candy’s Fruit Stand won’t be selling dusty blueberries. When the city starts tearing up the street in front of her shop, Candace Kent is…

Candy’s Fruit Stand won’t be selling dusty blueberries.

When the city starts tearing up the street in front of her shop, Candace Kent is closing for the season.

And if the construction is on schedule, the owner will be selling her last fruits and veggies by the third week of August.

That’s six weeks early, said Kent, who’s usually open from May to September.

“I’ll be losing roughly a quarter of my annual profits.”

Because there will not be street access, the city offered to make up signs for Kent.

“But all the locals drive right up; they don’t like to walk,” she said.

“My customers are very upset.”

Entering the shop from the back alley just isn’t feasible, said employee Joey Inbeau.

The fruit stand sees three delivery trucks a week and Northern Elegance and NAPA’s trucks also come through that alley.

“So there’d be no place to park,” said Inbeau.

Kent had a couple of meetings with the city to express her concern.

“I asked if they could put it off until at least Labour Day,” she said.

“Then I’d only be three weeks short.”

But Kent was told the work couldn’t wait.

“The city said, ‘Oh, you’ll be busy,’” said Kent.

“But this is perishable stuff and if I’m not busy enough and have to throw it out, they’re not going to pay for it.”

“The city shouldn’t make assumptions that you’ll be busy,” said regular customer Marion Woods, there to pick up some fruit.

Kent estimates her clientele would drop by 60 to 70 per cent.

The owner heard about the sewer and water upgrades last summer and called the city in the fall.

“They said it wouldn’t be happening until 2009,” she said.

“And the city told us we’d be given two years notice.”

In March, Kent got a letter from the city informing her the Black Street repairs would be going ahead this summer.

“If I’d known in advance I would have started saving and planned for it,” she said.

On top of its losses, the business has to pay the city $15,000 for the water and sewer work, she said.

But Kent’s fruit stand isn’t even hooked up.

“It would have been too expensive to get water,” she said.

Kent is hoping the city is behind in its roadwork so she can stay open until Labour Day.

“They say they’re on schedule, but I’m hoping they’re not,” she said.

Local farmers will also be affected by the closure, said Kent, who buys peas, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots from Yukon growers.

“They were upset when they heard we were closing, because suddenly they will have no place to sell their produce,” she said.

“You’re closing early,” said Dean Hull, a customer who overheard the discussion.

He was buying produce by the box.

“Every trip we do we come here,” he said, explaining that’s how he outfits his canoe-tripping business, Pathways Canada Tours.

“And the closure is in the middle of canning season,” added Woods.

The city originally hoped to get the work done in June, said Whitehorse engineering technologist George Farrow.

“But we’re dealing with a business here that every month is its best month — this month it’s canning, in June it was cherries.”

The city can’t wait until after Labour Day to dig up the road because the surface work is frost sensitive, he said.

With the roadwork by the school wrapping up this week, Farrow hopes to start work on the road in front of the fruit stand a week early.

“I was going to go talk to (the owner) about it this week,” he said.

Farrow is still hoping to work out an alternative access.

There is that empty lot next door, he said.

“But we would have to go talk to its owners about using it for parking.”

That would be the city’s responsibility, he added.

“We’ve been trying to make things best for everybody.

“But we’re kind of between a rock and a hard place all around.”

If the city’s contractor had his way, he’d be in there now, said Farrow.

“But I told (Kent) I’d give her lots of notice, so she can have a sale, because we’re dealing with perishable stuff.”

Across the street from the fruit stand, The Adult Warehouse isn’t too concerned about the roadwork.

“If people want to get in, they’ll find a way,” said employee Ellen Oppold.

Oppold’s only concern is the noise.

“Hopefully the building will stand up with all that vibrating,” she said.