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News Release: Businesses want to see financial relief from major construction projects

May 20, 2022

For Immediate Release
May 20, 2022

Winnipeg, MB — As Winnipeg kicks off both its construction and election seasons, a new Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce survey indicates business leaders want to see proposals from mayoral candidates about how the City can minimize the financial impact of major building projects on small businesses.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) to the Chamber’s 2022 Civic Election Survey agreed the City should offer financial relief to small businesses who are negatively affected by road, sidewalk, water, or sewer construction.

To underline the significance of the problem, respondents also identified better management of traffic during construction projects as their top priority (43%) for improvements to Winnipeg’s transportation system, tracking ahead of options like reducing traffic congestion (34%) and building more active transportation (29%).

“Restaurants, retail stores and service businesses were severely hurt by the pandemic and many are just getting back on their feet and have years of debt repayments to make,” explained Loren Remillard, President and CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. “While our members support the City’s investments in road renewal, they also clearly agree the City should offer financial support if major construction projects are limiting access to small businesses and creating even more revenue and job losses.”

Remillard pointed to Montreal for an example of the type of program Winnipeg could consider. In 2019, Montreal launched a financial assistance program for certain businesses located in areas affected by major construction. Assistance is calculated based on revenue losses of greater than 5% and can reach up to $40,000 per year. In its first five years (retroactive to 2016) the program paid out roughly $1.4 million in assistance.

“The City of Winnipeg currently collects $58 million annually in business tax, so a construction relief program would only account for a small portion of that,” said Remillard, who also noted the City has a recent history of supporting small businesses through its COVID-19 Economic Support Grant Program that it could build on.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce 2022 Civic Election Survey contains data collected from 350 respondents in early-May 2022.