Winnipeg grocer, city at odds over construction on Maryland Street

A construction sign.
A construction sign. File / Global News

Construction work outside a Winnipeg grocery store has the frustrated owner calling for changes to the way the city sets up its jobs in the future.

Food Fare’s Munther Zeid told 680 CJOB his Maryland Street shop had its parking lot blocked off while crews worked on the road outside, which has had a big impact on customers and deliveries.

Zeid said he’s asked the city for help, without much success.

“(The city) should give some instruction to these construction companies to be a little bit more understanding and co-operative,” he said.

“When we were going out there, one company was being co-operative, but the other would just say, ‘We have a permit to be here,’ and just turn their backs and walk away.”

Munther Zeid, the owner of the Food Fare grocery store chain in Winnipeg.
Munther Zeid, the owner of the Food Fare grocery store chain in Winnipeg. Michael Draven / Global News

Zeid said he’d like to see the city consult with businesses before construction starts, in order to work out access issues ahead of time.

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“A possibility could be working at night, so this way, when the business is closed, they’re working, and then in the morning when you get there, they provide some sort of walkway, or put boards down for people to still walk in.

“A lot of larger cities are doing that. I don’t know why we’re not.”

The road outside the Maryland Food Fare, he said, has been reduced to a single lane, and that means many of his customers have to drive almost an extra block to get access to the store.

It’s a blow, especially when businesses are already suffering due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re down quite a bit for this past month and a bit, ever since they started. It’s not going to break us, but being down hurts,” said Zeid.

Read more: Road construction season set to kick off in Winnipeg despite coronavirus pandemic

Michelle Stainton, project management engineer with the city, said the city does try to minimize the impact of construction on businesses.

“We do try to communicate as best we can with the businesses and try to offer solutions and routes around, to the extent that we can.

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“The message is that it’s short-term pain for long-term gain and we appreciate everyone’s patience in that.”

Ultimately, Stainton told 680 CJOB, roadwork will make for much nicer streets for everyone, including business owners.

Stainton said if a project does need to get done in a short time frame, workers may do construction around the clock — but the section of Maryland that includes Zeid’s store wouldn’t fit the bill.

“So 24/7 construction, you can appreciate that on a street like Maryland, there’s a lot of people who would not want that there.

“It would be all summer, and that would be right in the middle of a neighbourhood.

“Most of our major streets — we don’t have a lot of freeways — are either in proximity to residences or apartment buildings, so to do it as a matter of course would prove difficult.”

Winnipeg announces start of road construction season
Winnipeg announces start of road construction season