‘Wild west’ of roads driving business away from Moose Jaw street

Moose Jaw's High Street is leading the way in CAA's Worst Roads Campaign. Derek Putz/ Global News

With two days left to vote for Saskatchewan’s worst road, Moose Jaw is on track to claim the dubious title. Residents say cars aren’t the only things bearing the brunt of bad roads, as local businesses are also taking a hit.

READ MORE: What’s the worst road in Saskatchewan? Have your say in CAA’s campaign

“That hurts businesses like mine tremendously,” Don McKenzie, who owns Watervision Hot Tubs, said. “What customers I still have are disgusted with it. They have to come in off a different street. There’s been so many blockades and and construction around the city it’s been hard to get around anywhere.”

“Once you lose people going down a road or through an area, it’s tough to get them to come back.”

A dusty, pitted lane with holes where sidewalks should be has driven traffic away while residents and businesses wait for repairs.

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Construction began last summer with the expectation of finished by fall of 2017, as part of Moose Jaw’s cast iron replacement project. The city says an early winter halted the work, and there is currently no time frame for completion.

READ MORE: Moose Jaw replacing 2.7 km of old water main throughout city

“We know it’s been frustrating. We know it’s been painful,” Moose Jaw’s manager of communications Craig Hemingway said. “Nobody likes driving those roads, we drive those roads too. We hope for everybody’s sake we get a resolution quickly.”

Business owners maintain their desire for improved communication throughout the process, while the city says there isn’t much to update while it continues talks with the project contractor.

McKenzie says he’s not looking for compensation or apologies, but wants to see action now.

“Let’s get it going. Don’t give any more excuses. People in the City of Moose Jaw are hurting. Let’s get it fixed,” he said.

In the meantime, even business owners are avoiding driving in front of their shops.

“I have a car and it’s definitely damaging to it, especially if you’re not aware of where the potholes are. They’re not really marked.” Kallan Smith, whose family has run a pet shop for more than a decade, said.

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says 65,000 businesses across the country have been impacted by construction in the past five years, forcing many to borrow, relocate, or close down altogether.

In a report released earlier this week, CFIB recommended Canadian municipalities adopt a construction mitigation policy, including measures like a municipal compensation program for cases where construction has a ‘moderate to major impact for an extended period’.

Hemingway says if any business or resident feels the city is liable for damage of any sort, they have the option to make a liability claim, which a third-party adjudicator will investigate.

Either way, High Street won’t be fixed anytime soon. Hemingway says compaction and concrete work needs to happen before paving can happen.

“We wish the project had been on schedule. It wasn’t, and now we won’t be able to complete anything until the weather is warm enough to move forward with a construction schedule.”

READ MORE: Navigating Moose Jaw’s deteriorating roads

High Street is leading the way with CAA’s Worst Roads Campaign winding down. As of Friday, three Moose Jaw streets ranked in the top ten.


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