N.B. landmark working to keep customers after creation of new highway
Business has dropped off sharply at Ossie’s Lunch since the new four-lane highway bypassed its location in Bethel, N.B.
Published Thursday, September 6, 2012 6:56PM ADT
Anyone who has travelled through southern New Brunswick may remember seeing, or even stopping at a seafood institution in the area. But Ossie’s Lunch is no longer on the main highway.
Business has dropped off sharply at Ossie’s since the new four-lane highway bypassed its location in Bethel, N.B.
“Some are telling us that they have driven an hour or two hours out of their way, backtracking, trying to find us,” says diner owner Angela Tessier.
Ossie’s decided to put up signs along the highway, informing motorists what exit they should take and the initiative worked - until the signs were taken down.
“They’ve been removed completely and we’re not sure where they are,” says Tessier.
Others have tried a similar approach.
“My husband went down and put it back up and the next day, they were gone. Not just taken down - gone,” says salmon smoke shop owner Debra Thorne.
Officials with the Department of Transportation say they are working to alleviate concerns, including adding the name Bethel to highway signs. However, if a sign does not meet regulations, it is illegal.
“I think it stinks,” says Liberal MLA Rick Doucet. “The cookie cutter approach does not work for business. It does not allow them to show uniqueness and for them to have to fork out significant money to make these changes to adapt to the new highway, this isn’t their fault.”
The highway construction project is months ahead of schedule and signage for small businesses wasn’t supposed to be an issue until next year.
Therefore, those businesses are asking for a reprieve and to be able to put up temporary signs, at least until the end of the tourism season.
“We just want to survive the last few weeks and then get into the mode to prepare for next spring,” says Tessier.
At that time, they will be facing another issue - spending hundreds of dollars, or even more, to purchase a highway sign approved by the provincial government.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron
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