Queanbeyan Business Council president and mayoral candidate Jamie Cregan has spoken up in support of Crawford Street businesses affected by the construction of the new lifestyle precinct, calling the process badly managed and lacking in consultation between Council and business owners.
Mr Cregan said that while the Business Council supported the overall concept of Crawford Street, he thought the construction process was poorly timed.
"We didn't support the timing of the project, because it started at the peak time of trade for many businesses.
"Most of the restaurants were all going into their peak season of trade and were going to be hamstrung by the development. Any economic impact statement should have recognised that the development should not have been started at the time.
"I hope it picks up for their sake, because no one would like to receive a 50 per cent pay reduction for doing the same work," Mr Cregan said.
Mr Cregan also suggested the construction timeframe for the lifestyle precinct might have been politically motivated.
"I've had it suggested to me by a number of the businesses that it was forced upon them in August [last year] so that it would be finished in time for the upcoming election. Whether that's true or not, I can't say.
"But I would like to have seen the project not start until February. It would have made more economic sense for the businesses if that had of occurred," he said.
However mayor Tim Overall said that suggestions the timing of Crawford St was framed around political concerns was a "lame argument."
"I would have liked to see it completed twelve months ago- that would have been my preference, but that turned out to be not possible.
"The complexities of the project in terms of design and the replacement of water infrastructure and other complexities meant it couldn't be completed within that time frame. There was a lot of planning and consultation and that went into this," he said.
Cr Overall also rejected the assertion that Council had not been consultative with business, and said some business owners had failed to attend important planning meetings.
"There was a lot of consultation with businesses, but unfortunately some of those businesses weren't all representative at some of those consultation sessions with Council staff - they failed to attend - which caused some difficulties later."
Businesses in the newly refurbished lifestyle precinct say the construction period slashed their trade by 40 per cent over more than eight months, and that trade is still yet to bounce back.
Bells Drycleaner manager Mark Meddings said that customers hadn't yet returned to the area, despite construction crews moving out at the end of May.
"It looks nice out there, but I haven't noticed any extra people or cars coming through. If anything, there's less traffic now because the traffic lights have been reconfigured.
"I actually think the new Kmart store will do more for this area when it comes than the Crawford Street redevelopment. But we'll have to wait and see," he said.
Further up the street at Ciao Cafe and Cakes, owner Anna Perre said the business was still acclimatising to its new location after leaving City Link plaza last year.
"We've started to see more people walking past, but it's still not what we're used to. Maybe when the weather warms up a bit we'll see more people back along here," she said.
Blooms Chemist pharmacist Shaheed Sahukhan said the business also recorded a 40 per cent downturn over recent months, and that without their regular customers the business might have closed.
"If we didn't have our loyal customers coming back and supporting us it would have been an uphill struggle to keep the doors open."
The lifestyle precinct will be officially launched at 12pm on Saturday.