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Jasper Avenue business owners seek compensation

EDMONTON- Some business owners along Jasper Avenue are considering legal action, because they say ongoing construction has put a dent in their bottom line.

The streetscape project along the popular downtown avenue started in April 2012 and business owners say it’s been one delay after another. One local chiropractor feels he’s been misled by the city.

“It’s very insulting when they’re so far behind (and) they’re telling us it’s okay,” said Dr. Bradley Basaraba, whose clinic is located at 100th Street and Jasper Avenue. “Small businesses don’t have deep pockets and we don’t have room for mistakes.”

There has been some progress, though. The sidewalks along the north side of the avenue between 100th Street and 102nd Street have been reopened, as crews get ready to start work on the south side of the avenue next week. But, Basaraba says it isn’t enough.

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“A partial sidewalk is still a partial sidewalk. There’s no flow of traffic,” he said.

Basaraba says he’s seeking legal advice and hopes other business owners will join him.

“We are looking for tax incentives, and we’re also looking for compensation for loss of business,” said Basaraba.

“Some sort of compensation would be really nice,” added Kevin Dubetz, the events and catering coordinator at Underground Tap and Grill located at 100th Street and Jasper Avenue.

The pub opened while construction was underway, in October 2012. Dubetz says the delayed project has negatively impacted business and customers have taken notice.

“It’s also kind of confusing for customers, because the pathways have changed constantly. So it’s hard to navigate your way down Jasper Ave to our location.”

Jim Taylor, the executive director of the Downtown Business Association, says he understands some businesses have suffered over the last year, but maintains it will be worth it in the end.

“There’s no good way of doing major construction in front of retail outlets. You just can’t accommodate them when you’re building a roadway like this, so you do the best you can and I think the city and PCL has done that,” he said. “This is going to be the nicest street in Edmonton. It’s going to be the newest major municipal boulevard in Canada when it’s finished.”

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The city says while there have been delays, the project is on schedule to be complete by the end of October.

With files from Vinesh Pratap.

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