The upcoming summer season has many people daydreaming of wandering around downtown Halifax shops, perhaps even sitting on patios with a frosty beverage or two.
It’s safe to say the majority of people aren’t including the sounds of relentless jackhammering or drilling in that picture, but for some downtown Halifax businesses, that scenario is a challenging reality.
“Just the noise, the lack of parking on the street, [and the] dirt in the air from blasting all the time makes it a less welcoming environment for sure,” said David Flemming of the Daily Grind Cafe and Art Market.
The second part of a mixed-used development project is underway across the street from the cafe.
The first building of the Mary Ann Sister Suites is open for business in the heart of the Spring Garden Road district.
While the completion of the first building comes with underground parking, the construction process has taken a toll on many of the local businesses in the area.
“We definitely have people voice that it’s a little noisy at times. The patio is new for us, but I think with the blasting and stuff this summer we’ll have to find some ways around to make the most out of a poor situation,” Flemming said.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says he recently discussed the idea of a construction mitigation policy that could include compensation for small businesses due to the negative impact they endure with major infrastructure developments.
“Whenever you have a growing city, there are some issues of construction and we have to be very sensitive to the needs of the businesses. I’ve met with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business [CFIB] on this; they know we’re serious about it and we’re going to do everything we can to assist people while we make better communities and recognizing in the short term that there can be some pain,” Mayor Savage said.
Recently, the City of Montreal unveiled a compensation plan for businesses left to deal with long-term construction.
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Businesses would get $30,000 per year in compensation if they had adjacent construction for six months or more.
It’s a program that the Atlantic bureau of CFIB wants the Halifax Regional Municipality to implement.
“We are calling for a compensation program to be considered here,” said Jordi Morgan. “We know that there are construction management practices that are happening within Halifax, but we think that compensation should be a part of the puzzle.”
According to CFIB’s construction report, 65,000 Canadian businesses will be impacted by major infrastructure projects in the coming years.
“Montreal has adopted a construction mitigation plan that includes compensation,” Morgan said. “We think this is a really good model for Halifax to look at and all municipalities across the country, for that matter, because what they’re doing is they’re looking at the severe impacts on business and then finding ways to help these businesses survive major infrastructure development.”
Mayor Savage, meanwhile, gave no clear indication if a similar program will be adopted here.
“We as a city have taken the issue of construction very seriously because we’ve had issues where people have been inconvenienced,” he said.