Broadway dollar store faces closure over subway construction

Vancouver Council directs staff to seek financial assistance from Broadway businesses adversely affected by subway construction

Vancouver City Council has asked staff to apply for financial assistance for businesses along Broadway affected by ‘open-air’ subway construction and wants the provincial government to also explore options to help landlords keep their doors open .

In a motion led by the con. Colleen Hardwick, Council asked staff to consider easing or deferring business property taxes, offering revitalization tax exemptions, and developing a program similar to the City of Montreal’s financial assistance program for businesses affected by major construction works.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear some of the stories because these are real companies and real people who are really hurting through this process and experiencing loss,” Coun said. Sarah Kirby-Yung at a June 16 council meeting.

“So while I think in the future Broadway will be a big street and business should actually increase, we actually need the businesses to still be there and survive. We don’t want them to be victims of the process.

Your dollar store with more

Council passed the motion after hearing from business owners along Broadway, including Mei Gour of Your Dollar Store with More on Broadway and Yukon and Sentheepan Senthivel, manager of Green’s Market on Broadway and Maple.

Gour has owned and operated the dollar store for 12 years and said council business has fallen 40% since construction began on the subway last July. Construction involves digging holes in sections of Broadway and then covering them up again.

“Since the start of construction, I have already invested all my savings in the business,” she said. “I have no more money to save my business. I went to the bank for a loan, any kind of loan I can get. I was turned down because our sales are down.

She said customers struggled to access the store via a narrow sidewalk and street parking was no longer available. She said she was paying extra for deliveries as delivery drivers struggled to access the store.

“For the past two years we’ve battled COVID, but COVID didn’t kill my business,” Gour said. “This construction is and will be if we don’t get help. If we can’t get financial help, I’m facing [having] close the dollar store very soon.

BroadwayConstruction
Construction crews work near Broadway and Cambie Street on the subway, which is scheduled to open in 2025. Photo Rob Kruyt

The green market

Senthivel, which employs 40 people and has worked at its site for 12 years, told the council the loss of revenue was $800,000, with a gross profit loss of $300,000 since construction began at the outside his store.

“We can handle noise, we can handle nuisance, we can handle inconvenience, but not financial hardship,” he said. “It’s a lot to bear for a small entrepreneur. Our loss of sales is quite huge. I lose about 250 customers a day. This represents approximately 1,400 customers per week.

Senthivel has a triple net lease with its landlord, which means it pays rent, maintenance and property tax, which are expected to increase. Currently, the property tax bill for Green’s Market is $60,000 per year.

“Property taxes will go up,” he said. “So we’re going to pay more property taxes while there’s a huge hole dug in front of our store, which I think is very unfair.”

He urged the council to “join the fight” by asking the province for financial assistance.

Com. Pete Fry, who shopped at Green’s Market and Your Dollar Store with More, described the city’s role in seeking financial assistance for businesses affected by cut-and-cover construction as “junior partners “.

“We’re not driving the train, so to speak,” he said, referring to the provincial government as the lead on the subway project, which is expected to be completed by 2025. is not entirely our responsibility per se, we have a responsibility to the residents and businesses of our city.

Montreal Financial Assistance Program

In Montreal, this municipality launched a financial assistance program in 2019 aimed at reducing the impact of construction sites on businesses located in sectors affected by major construction.

Financial assistance can reach a maximum of $40,000 per fiscal year and is calculated based on the actual losses incurred by merchants, according to program details on the City of Montreal’s website.

The B.C. government, meanwhile, said in an email from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that it is not paying compensation for “temporary disruptions” resulting from construction overseen by the provincial government. .

No compensation from the province

The department noted that no compensation had been offered or provided to businesses affected by the Canada Line project and said the construction method of the subway was significantly different from that of the Canada Line.

“To help minimize disruption, the new line is being dug underground with temporary bridges called traffic bridges being installed within the Broadway station blocks to maintain access to businesses, health services and residences during construction. , including pedestrian access for people of all abilities,” the ministry said.

“As a result, there is far less surface disruption to business than the ‘cut and cover’ approach used on the Canada Line.”

The department said it has been actively working with businesses since 2019 to help inform traffic and construction management plans and is “committed to working one-on-one with businesses to understand their concerns and collaborate.” on potential solutions to construction impacts”.

“We recognize that the construction of the Broadway Subway Project may present additional challenges for businesses and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work as quickly as possible to complete this project,” the department said.

“By starting to act early, we’ve ensured businesses on Broadway are open and accessible during construction, including pedestrian access for people of all abilities.”

security fence

Examples provided by the ministry of efforts to help businesses include:

• Work directly with each business on the type of storefront security fencing to meet preference to either block out noise and dust or provide visibility from streets and sidewalks.

• Move commercial loading areas from Broadway to nearest cross streets and work with the city to identify locations for new “loading room” areas.

• design and provide signage that directs businesses and indicates that businesses are open.

• Create parking and access maps for each station area along Broadway, which are distributed to businesses and posted on broadwaysubway.ca for download and printing.

• clean sidewalks, building facades and windows.

• plan certain activities such as water shut-offs at night specifically to accommodate business operations.

“This project will benefit many British Columbians by expanding fast, frequent and convenient SkyTrain service and advancing the province’s commitment to green transportation infrastructure,” the ministry said.

Gour, meanwhile, said she had to tell an employee on maternity leave and ready to return to work in July that she could no longer afford to give her full-time work.

“She called me recently to ask me about her return-to-work schedule,” Gour said. “I didn’t know what to say to him. I had no choice but to tell him that his full-time job was no longer available. I was so sad to disappoint her. But that’s my situation right now.”

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings

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