In a season that has seen a disproportionate number of highway closures due to winter weather-related incidents, some local businesses are realizing that there is an upside to disrupting the busiest highway in the province.
“Business is definitely up,” comments a local innkeeper. “We’re seeing lots of people who planned to stop in Toronto, or Ottawa, but they waited on the road for 4 hours, and had to crash, no pun intended, and spend the night.”
Indeed, many local businesses are reaping the benefits of routing major highway traffic through the city. Restaurant and eatery owners can double or triple their service during a detour, and local gas stations can make a killing. The detours north of the city are often ignored by motorists believing they know better, or by GPS units determined to find a better path.
“Whatever they’re doing, it’s working for us,” admitted a local fuel distributor. “It almost makes me wish they’d close that highway permanently. We’d make a killing.”
With highway construction projects continuing for the foreseeable future, it is believed that these kinds of economic bursts can be expected, however planning for them is not nearly as easy. Some businesses have taken to social media, tracking closely the highway accidents and delays to ensure they are able to meet sudden demands. Others are depending on word of mouth and traditional media to keep them abreast of the highway conditions.
“We’ve started ordering in extra supplies if we know there’s going to be some weather.” Admitted the innkeeper. “Seems like this season it’s almost a sure thing. Once there’s snow, people will start rolling in looking for a place to rest their head.”
While not a traditional means for economic development, it is believed that the local economy may be able to see some expansion along the detour routing through the city. Downtown business see double the benefits when the amount of traffic over the causeway is doubled, and already sluggish traffic grinds to a halt. Coffee shops, restaurants, and gas stations are all seeing the same kinds of boosts in business.
“All it would take would be an accident on the bridge,” hypothesized a downtown restaurateur, “and then these people would be stuck here… That would make for a pretty excellent end of day total, wouldn’t it?”
To date, no such issues have arisen, but the hypothetical is one that bears consideration, and could prove a boon for business as inclement conditions continue throughout the winter.