Politicians, businesses frustrated by ‘double-edged sword’ of summer construction in Winnipeg

It’s construction season once again in Winnipeg, and while it can be frustrating — for everyone involved — to see sections of major routes like Pembina Highway reduced to single lanes, it’s a necessary evil, the city’s public works chair says.

“Everyone’s fed up with construction — drivers, transit users, cyclists, pedestrians and businesses,” Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) told Global Winnipeg.

“It’s really challenging. We have a very, very short window to get all our construction completed in, but we have a record amount of funding that we have that we can do this construction with.

“It’s a double-edged sword and it is frustrating.”

Lukes admitted the seemingly never-ending construction zones aren’t ideal — something she dealt with first-hand as a small business owner before becoming a municipal politician.

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“I was a small business owner many years ago. The street right in front of the business was completely shut down for the summer season. It was horrible,” she said.

“The financial hit, the loss of business … there’s no way around it. It’s very difficult, it’s not pleasant. But the end result is really good; we have a new road.”

Current businesses are experiencing the same woes as construction on Pembina has affected their bottom lines, as well as the ability of customers to conveniently make their way to construction-marred storefronts.

Click to play video: 'Construction affecting Winnipeg businesses'

Construction affecting Winnipeg businesses

Adam Kozak of Star Buds Cannabis on Pembina told Global Winnipeg that while things are starting to improve as construction begins to ease in front of his shop, it’s been a difficult summer as a result of blocked roads and sidewalks.

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“It’s been a mix of things. We’re in a better spot at the moment, but when everything was down to one lane, it definitely made a difference here — things definitely slowed down,” he said.

“They had the entrance blocked off a couple times, which is not ideal. I’ve definitely heard some complaints, especially when the entrance is blocked…. I’ve had people have to park down the street, or if they’re walking and they’re working on the sidewalk, they can’t get in as easy as they’d like.

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Kozak said he’s grateful for the shop’s regulars, who have been finding ways around the construction and continuing to frequent the storefront, but said the ongoing work has likely cost him new customers.

According to Lukes, city workers are already prepping for next summer’s construction projects in the never-ending job of keeping Winnipeg’s roads in shape.

“What the public works team does is they go through neighbourhoods, they look at the residential roads right now, they look at the conditions. Every year they have to do that because there’s various eruptions, whether that be pipes that break, whether it be certain sections of road that give way … so there’s continual assessment always being done on the conditions of roads, the bike paths, the sidewalks.

“Over the winter they prepare the necessary engineer drawings to go at it again next year.

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“It’s not ideal, and the unfortunate part is we have a city with a lot of old infrastructure we have to deal with, but the very fortunate part of it is that we have the funding from all three levels of government to do, so I think we have to look at the bright side.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg locals and businesses grow tired of city’s state of construction'

Winnipeg locals and businesses grow tired of city’s state of construction

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