Roadwork Can Shutter Businesses in Mississauga

Turns out roadwork is a lot more than just a nuisance for many Canadians.

It’s also hitting them in the wallet.

According to a new study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 65,000 businesses in the last five years have been affected by roadwork with many forced to close, borrow or relocate.

CFIB is asking municipalities to pay companies for business lost due to infrastructure projects.

“Governments have announced hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure projects over the next few years,” said Simon Gaudreault, CFIB director of economic affairs. “However, none of this funding has been earmarked to compensate the businesses that will be significantly affected by these projects.”

The CFIB report, “Paving a Smooth Road: Helping small businesses survive infrastructure work,” is the first to assess the impact of roadwork on Canadian businesses.

It found that since 2012, 41 per cent of them have been affected by road work, with five per cent severely affected.

“Considering the strong negative impact on some businesses, it would be irresponsible if governments did nothing to help them,” said Gaudreault.

Almost half of the business owners in the study said their sales had declined. One in four suffered a high level of stress, and more than one in five had to dip into their savings. Seven per cent even went so far as to consider permanently closing or moving their business.

Roughly 70 per cent of businesses are unhappy with the way governments handle the negative impacts of these projects.The CFIB released a number of recommendations to help business owners deal with the effects of roadwork.

These include: a compensation program, a “no surprise” rule, a better planning approach, an improved contracting process, and dedicated business consulting personnel.

With peak road construction season approaching, “we are calling on all municipalities to show leadership and be among the first to adopt a policy supporting small businesses threatened by extensive infrastructure projects,” said Gaudreault.

“As a first step, they should put in place compensation measures for those businesses impacted by construction in a major way, inspired from the ones already existing in other jurisdictions, like Seattle, Brussels and Sydney.”

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