Hanna town council heard one of their members warn her peers about possible lawsuits if Main Street business owners lose revenue due to an upcoming construction project. The discussion was held at the Sept. 12 regular meeting of council.
During the regular report of Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill councillors heard a summary of engineering projects which the CAO noted the town has been working with MPE Engineering on.
The first project mentioned was the downtown redevelopment project, stated Neill. “MPE has completed the drawings and cost estimates to the 90 per cent completion stage,” stated the CAO’s report to council.
“Have handed out an information package to most business owners in the affected construction area and held one-on-one meetings with 12 business representatives to review the project, timelines, design/plan feedback, access restrictions, outside water connections, etc.,” stated Neill’s report.
He added that a Prairies Can application has been submitted to fund this project.
Timelines call for the tender to be released in January 2024 with construction beginning in May, 2024, both based on available funding according to the staff report.
Coun. Sandra Murphy asked how long the Main Street roads would be closed for this project. Murphy stated the summary presented seemed a bit vague. Murphy also asked if business owners who are negatively impacted by the road closures will receive compensation.
Neil stated he was not aware of any compensation programs the Town of Hanna could employ. The CAO stated each block in the downtown core that is included in the redevelopment will see road closures of six weeks to two months. However, Neill noted all sidewalks will definitely be accessible 95 per cent of the time regardless of whether roads are closed, so shoppers could still access businesses.
Coun. Murphy stated the issue of lost business revenue due to road closures will likely be brought up and asked if it was possible for town staff to investigate the issue of compensation. Murphy stated by the Town of Hanna providing some information in advance some tense feelings may be alleviated.
Murphy clarified the town staff could look into what effect the road closures could have on nearby business’ revenue and how compensation could offset that loss.
The CAO stated it’s his understanding the town council itself could provide compensation to business owners in that situation apparently from local tax dollars. However, Neill stated he was not aware of any construction compensation program that could help Hanna business owners in that situation.
Murphy responded the town providing information about compensation could “reduce litigations,” adding that from what she understands there will be litigation apparently against the Town of Hanna from businesses if they lose revenue due to the Main Street construction project. Murphy stated there will be some businesses that can’t absorb reduced income for six weeks to two months.
Coun. Sandra Beaudoin stated that councillors still don’t know exactly how long Main Street roads will be closed for that project, adding it’s not definite that Main Street businesses will also lose money due to closures.
Beaudoin added she would like to see more facts about this situation before making any decisions about compensation.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter