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Victoria Street operators between rock and hard place, work moving to Durham and Chester

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Daryl Fane is an energetic Victoria St café operator doing whatever she can to keep her business running despite having noisy SCIRT roadworks right on her doorstep for the past five weeks. The work site moved north in the past few days, making her sunny front tables again a lovely place to sit and watch the city rebuild.

She doesn’t blame her regular customers for staying away, particularly with the street outside one way south-only and limited parking. The work along this stretch of Victoria St will be finished in the next three weeks with all the street’s businesses, including the rebuilt ones at the Bealey Avenue end, getting a new wastewater main and lateral pipes.

Daryl is pragmatic and recognises that the infrastructure repair work has to happen. “This has to be done but financially it has been very hard. I know it has got to be done sometime.”

Originally the work by Fletcher was going to start at the end of last year, but the timetable was altered so retailers, particularly the boutiques, could make the most of Cup and Show Week in November and the Christmas shopping period. 

The old tram tracks embedded in Victoria Street have also not made the excavation a fast operation, although the team has largely kept to its schedule, working into the night on a number of occasions. Getting the trench and pipe past a large underground carpark had to be done at night.

“You’ve got to be determined to come here currently,” says Daryl. “Even with the reduced turnover, I’ve still got staff to pay wages. The rent is the same, the franchise costs are the same. My new regular customers are all the workers in the area.”

Daryl is even offering two-for-one price breakfasts and two-for-one coffees to attract customers inside. Two years ago, she was running a café in High Street, an area still within the city’s red zone cordon.

Gordon Smith Fruiterers message boards drivers on both sides
On the Salisbury St corner, Gordon Smith and Sons Fruiterers have the signs out on the footpath urging people to support Victoria St retailers. Drivers can still park along Durham Street on the way home if they need ingredients for a healthy meal. The shop supplies much more than fruit and veg with delicatessen items, organic juices, icecream and meat from Halswell Butchery.

More work coming near the Court buildings Durham Street and Chester St West
The next piece of work in this area is the installation of a pressure main along Chester Street West and Durham Street.  Fletcher’s crew will be welding pipe in the red zone, and then working with the Courthouse staff to take the pipes through their car park in the early morning without disrupting parking. The new wastewater pressure main will eventually be attached to a new underground pump station, still to be constructed.



Published: 19 February 2013