Calgary business owners say they’re cut off because of construction projects

A new report says that thousands of small businesses throughout Canada have been negatively impacted by road construction over the past five years with many saying they’ve had to close the doors because of the issue.

The says that about 65,000 businesses had been impacted by projects between 2012 and 2017 and needed to take loans, move or just completely shut down because of the factors associated with construction projects.

The agency says the main problem posed by construction is business access because customers can’t get to stores or even find them because of the blockades and work sites.

Businesses on 17 Avenue in Calgary have borne the brunt of road construction for a number of years and owners along that stretch say they have seen a drop in sales because of it.

“It’s definitely too hard to get to. The traffic is so bad, people don’t want to drive,” says Yasmeen Chybli, owner of Eat-A-Pita. “People say they don’t want to come so much because it’s too easy to get into an accident.”

She says that the government needs to step in and compensate businesses.

“There are a lot of businesses on this block that have shut down. Two in our plaza have shut down in the same month. Up and down the street, people are closing all the time. We’re keeping our doors open, our staff is still working but the only one who is affected really is me. Being the owner, I can’t shut down my business; I want my business to succeed so we’re going to suffer a couple of years.”

Chybli says she hopes that it will get better once the construction is completed.

Amber Ruddy, the Alberta director for the CFIB, says better solutions are needed for small businesses affected by construction projects.

“In Calgary, we had 85 percent of small businesses impacted by construction say that they’re dissatisfied with the municipal government’s approach to mitigating impact.”

She says that the city has to play a role because they are the body that is imposing the project.

“It’s time to consider giving financial compensation to businesses.”

The CFIB says that municipalities need to implement a policy to create a compensation program for businesses affected by moderate to major projects, impose bonuses and penalties on contractors for early and late completion dates and put a business liaison officer in place to help communication between businesses and construction site managers.

(With files from Chris Epp)