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Edmonton considering compensating businesses constricted by construction following tight vote

The negative impact on small companies caused by the continued buildout of the West LRT in Edmonton has pushed one city councillor to champion the idea of giving businesses a relief program to deal with multi-year construction projects.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 7-6, council decided to explore the idea.

A program may apply to areas like Stony Plain Road and 134 Street, which is fenced off and torn up as crews build the Valley Line to the western edge of Anthony Henday Drive.

Customers who frequent the block of businesses in the area know the road dug up and the sidewalk relocation has taken a big slice of profits from some stores.

"It's long term construction. That's the problem, it’s not just a few months, it’s a few years," said Julia Nelson who lives nearby.

What the project has meant inside Vi's For Pies is a large percentage in lost revenue, said its co-owner.

"Percentage wise, I guess we’re down about 30 percent, that is mainly from the summer," Josh Lawrence said.

It's losses like that from big infrastructure projects that have had Coun. Andrew Knack back before council Wednesday pushing an idea for an aid package for suffering shop owners, one that could be repayable once times are good again.

"I haven't heard from any businesses, saying, 'Please don't help me make it through this construction.' But I did hear, and that’s why I added it in the feedback, 'Is there a way? If we see a benefit after, we are OK with repaying that," Knack explained.

But councillors were quick to point out Knack had brought the idea forward before and a prior council had voted it down amid concerns of complications and fairness.

"I kind of worry about the message it sends to other businesses who went through this previously, kind of, 'What about us?'" Coun. Keren Tang wondered.

Despite concerns about fiduciary responsibility, and where the money might be found, Knack's financial loss during major construction projects motion passed.

"We need to determine how much we’re setting aside for that policy and council would still need to approve that. So there is a chance that council could still say no," he said.

That won't come up until the New Year, but either way, the business that’s lost 30 per cent of its revenue since construction started says it won’t ever apply for a grant or loan from city hall.

"Waiting around for that to happen is not a way to go about business. Just get to work and don't worry. I mean, taxpayers money, don't worry about it. It’s not for me," Lawrence said.

Vi’s For Pies says the road building outside is nearly over and they expect business to turn around by Christmas.

In a statement to CTV News on Thursday, Marigold Infrastructure Partners, the company building the West LRT, said it expects to open the intersection of 134 Street and Stony Plain Road by the end of the week, with the 132 Street intersection opening shortly thereafter.

"We expect to re-open Stony Plain Rd between 131 Street and 139 Street by the end of November with much of the permanent works completed," a company spokesperson wrote. "Areas where we are unable to complete permanent works will have temporary asphalt to open the road to motorists over the winter season."

"Work will continue throughout the winter; however, the area will be open to through traffic with some short-term lane restrictions in place."

Marigold says the Stony Plain Road Bridge is still on track to be opened by fall 2024. Top Stories

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