Edmonton businesses affected by significant construction projects may get a financial reprieve if a motion put forward to Edmonton city council passes.
The motion — being proposed by Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack this week — would provide financial compensation to businesses that can show they have lost money due to construction closures.
Businesses along Stony Plain Road said construction of the Valley Line West LRT has had a troubling impact on revenue since construction began in 2021.
Parts of the main thoroughfare have been ripped up, with some sections closed off altogether, as Marigold Infrastructure Partners builds the 14-kilometre line that will link downtown to Lewis Farms.
“It’s actually had quite a devastating impact on my business,” said Dennis Aronyk, who has owned Revolution Cycle at 151st Street for 32 years.
Dennis Aronyk says Revolution Cycle is losing a lot of revenue due to construction on Stony Plain Road. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)
“I knew there was going to be some disruption, but I just didn’t think it’d be anywhere near this extensive,” Aronyk said in an interview.
“We’re suffering such hardship, and I mean, I know a lot of businesses are already shuttered.”
Aronyk is not alone in his troubles.
Josh Lawrence co-owns Vi’s for Pies on Stony Plain Road at 134th Street.
“We’ve had people phone and say, ‘We can’t find you.’ They kind of give up,” Lawrence said.
“We have people, every time that someone comes into the bakery, they’ll say, ‘It’s really, really, really rough getting here.'”
Financial loss during major construction projects policy
Knack is presenting the motion for consideration after city council rejected it twice previously.
A draft policy report from 2022 looked at the logistics of putting in place a means of compensation.
Montreal became one of the first major municipalities in Canada to compensate businesses impacted by construction.
According to that city’s website, existing businesses can be eligible for up to $40,000 per fiscal year. Some conditions include construction lasting at least six months and businesses experiencing a decrease of more than five per cent in gross profit.
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The policy in Edmonton would involve financial assistance provided directly to business owners and not landlords.
The policy also outlines a cap on forgiveness, such as 50 per cent of property taxes for the years of construction.
Forgiveness would be expected to be repaid in years after the completion of construction should revenue increase to a level higher than pre-construction values.
Forgiveness would also be determined by business revenue and not net income.
“We need to remember that these folks are putting their life savings on the line to open up these businesses,” Knack said.
“I’m really focused on them, the small businesses.”