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Compensation coming for desperate Marda Loop small business owners

The detours started a year-and-a-half ago, says Cameron Fraser, owner of Fraser & Fig on 34th Avenue SW. And while a lot of work has been done, Fraser says he doesn’t expect to be free of it until late 2025.

“You got pop-up detours happening, like, daily, that they don’t make us aware of.  So, you can’t prepare for a lot of this.”

The work is being done to add a bike lane, improve the streetscape and repair utilities.

The price Fraser will pay is causing him to fret about hanging in long enough to see the other side.

“I think we will, but it’s been a pretty rough go,” Fraser said.

“We were down in January 50 per cent. February we were down 30 per cent. Prior to that, the numbers were down on average 25 to 30 per cent.”

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During a drive on Thursday, a Global News crew noticed four active construction sites affecting traffic on the road or on the sidewalks in Marda Loop. One of them was outside Distilled Beauty Bar and Social House.

Click to play video: 'Calgarians encouraged to support local businesses as construction grips Marda Loop'

Calgarians encouraged to support local businesses as construction grips Marda Loop

Owner Lisa Maric says she’s not only losing money, but faith in the city’s handling of the project.

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“Very dramatic and very heartbreaking. We survived COVID, barely. Our team has struggled, obviously, paying the bills and all that. And for us to be alternately, day after day, have closures or to have our business diminished, as you can see, my coffee house is currently emptied, nobody can get here today.”

A pilot project freeing up $5,000 for affected businesses has passed its first hurdle at city hall. It will be voted on in council by the end of the month.

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Click to play video: 'Construction chaos in Calgary community closes roads, sidewalks, businesses'

Construction chaos in Calgary community closes roads, sidewalks, businesses

Sonya Sharp, Councillor Ward 1, says it’s needed relief, and the city should have done better.

“This isn’t the first time we have been doing programs like this. There has been an overwhelming, I would say, concern of what’s happening in Marda Loop,” Sharp says.

“I think we missed the mark on communication.

“I think we need to get better at that in everything we do. This is definitely a lesson learned.”

Bob van Wegen, executive director of Marda Loop Business Improvement Area, says it’s great news and perhaps the start of change that will help all small business owners faced with construction delays because of city projects.

“I think it’s great that the city is proposing to make some improvements to how they deal with major construction projects. Certainly there is a lot that can be done.”

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Click to play video: 'Construction concerns for businesses in the southwest neighborhood of Marda Loop'

Construction concerns for businesses in the southwest neighborhood of Marda Loop

Other suggestions, like turning empty lots into temporary parking, are also being considered.

Fraser says the money won’t offset much of the damage.

“Like all the other businesses, it’s not going to go very far.  For some people, it’s not even a week’s worth of rent.”

But Maric says every little bit will help.

“I think that is exactly the way to say it: it is better than nothing.

“There needs to be more, given what we are going through, but that’s a good starting point.”

van Wegen says that some business owners think the best thing to do will be to pay it forward.

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“I have heard a number of them talking about doing some special marketing, maybe customer appreciation events, appreciate their customers particularly during these challenging times of construction.”

Click to play video: 'Proposed Marda Loop development is a ‘tipping point’: residents'

Proposed Marda Loop development is a ‘tipping point’: residents

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