Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Timely notice

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The City of Winnipeg must do a better job of notifying businesses and residents who will be affected by major construction projects. Notice at the last minute isn't good enough, but that's apparently standard operating procedure for the city's public works branch, according to a West End restaurant owner, who received a letter notifying him of major street construction one day after the work began in 2012.

The owner said he lost customers because of the road work, but the city said it wasn't legally obliged to provide advance notice.

The bureaucratic response would be acceptable if the construction was performed on an emergency basis, but there's no excuse for not providing reasonable notice of work that will interrupt a business or disrupt a neighbourhood.

Several businesses in Winnipeg have closed their doors over the years as a result of lost revenue caused by lengthy construction projects, including le Beaujolais, which was rated as one of Canada's top restaurants until it closed in 2001 because of construction on Provencher Boulevard.

Borealis Books, one of the city's best used-book stores, closed in 2005 because of work on Main Street.

In both cases, however, it was well-known the work was going to be done, but sometimes even advance notice isn't enough to stave off financial ruin.

The fact is roads and sewer mains have to be repaired and replaced -- most businesses survive the process -- but the city should consider what it can do to mitigate the collateral damage when it digs up streets and sidewalks.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Gerald Flood, Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 22, 2013 A10

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