EDMONTON — The Bothy Wine & Whisky Bar says it’s been forced to shut down its 124 Street location due to construction on the 102 Avenue bridge.
The Bothy wouldn’t comment further on the closure, apart to say the building is now up for sale. The chair of the 124 Street Business Association says it’s disappointing to see a business shut its doors. Several businesses in the area have been struggling since the bridge closed for construction in July 2014.
“It’s been frustrating, there’s no doubt about it,” said Karen Bishop.
The $32-million project was originally scheduled to be complete by September 2015, but after troubles with the bridge girders, the city said the opening date is now more likely to be the summer or fall of 2016.
“Unfortunately the extra year is just like a nail in the coffin, I think, for some businesses which is very unfortunate. Like our friends at the Bothy,” said Bishop.
From extending hours and hosting street parties, area business owners have done their best to keep customers in the area.
“There’s only so much you can do, right? You take out a bridge and there’s only one way across,” said Bishop. “Traffic flow has been a problem.”
Businesses have asked the City of Edmonton for compensation, but Bishop isn’t confident the money will come through.
“They have their precedent in place and if they do it for one they’ve got to do it for everyone, right? And there’s 400 and something businesses in this area, so are you going to compensate all 400? I don’t know. I don’t know how it would work.”
Bishop says the city has been helpful, though, when it comes to supporting local events and adding clearer signage for patrons.
Ward 6 councillor Scott McKeen was disappointed to hear of the Bothy’s closure. He says there’s no question the bridge has been a huge issue for area businesses.
“I hate hearing that because local, independent business to me is critical to the vitality of the city and 124 Street, that general area with High Street, is a growing area with such potential as a regional tourism place,” he said.
However, offering compensation would “open a pandora’s box,” McKeen added.
“That, to my knowledge, has never been done,” he said Wednesday. “We cannot afford, as a civic corporation, to compensate every business when we’re doing public works.”
Bishop says the focus for local businesses is now to band together to let customers know they’re still open and work on new ways to bring in patrons.