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'Will it ever end?' Hyde Park’s growth forces more detours

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Growing pains are again impacting residents and businesses in Hyde Park.

The London enclave, once a village, has become almost unrecognizable over the past 25 years.

Throughout development, construction has promoted delays, and this week, another closure of Hyde Park Road at South Carriage Road has locals up in arms.

“A road closure that totally occurred with zero notice to either our businesses or our residents,” said Donna Szpakowski, CEO and general manager of the Hyde Park Business Association.

The construction is necessary to permit sewer work for a residential development, so north and south traffic must turn around at roadblocks and follow lengthy detours.

Szpakowski said it is a "nightmare" for Hyde Park’s independent retail businesses.

A vehicle on Hyde Park Road, south of Sarnia Road, is forced to turn around as it encounters a road block for construction in London, Ont. on Dec. 5, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

“They are at the height of their Christmas season. They have brought in extra inventory, they are ready to go. This was completely unexpected,” she said.

Business owner Adrian Plante echoes her comments.

He said the BIA told him about the pending construction in front of his business on Friday, but not city staff. Since Monday, he has been dealing with confused drivers day and night.

“We’ve been having a lot of traffic in our parking lot looking to turn around. And we just worry about our customers' cars getting damaged,” he said.

Yet Plant, who is a developer himself, acknowledged construction is a necessary part of growth. But, he still harkens back to a period when the road out front of his business was two lanes.

Adrian Plante owns Fanshawe Motors Tirecraft on Hyde Park Road in London, Ont. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London) “Immensely how things have changed. It’s been non-stop since 2002 when I moved here,” he said.

It raises the question: Is the transformation of Hyde Park nearly complete?

Not yet, Szpakowski told CTV News London. She said 14 new projects are on the books.

As they progress, she said the BIA is working to ensure Hyde Park’s original village character is one day transformed into an area to rival Wortley Village.

“It will be easier once residents vacate for us to turn that into a commercial zoning and create the kind of village we want here in Hyde Park,” she concluded.

The closure and detours on Hyde Park Road are expected to come down as early as the end of this week. 

Donna Szpakowski, CEO and general manager of the Hyde Park Business Improvement Association is seen in London, Ont. on Dec. 5, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

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