Calgary

Ongoing construction irks business owners along International Avenue

International Avenue is being completely overhauled, with dedicated bus lanes being added, along with new BRT stations, wider sidewalks and upgraded boulevards. Some businesses say construction is taking a bite out of the bottom line.

'There's been no parking, there's been a lot of construction, obviously, where they removed everything'

Salsa restaurant owner Karla Linares says the ongoing construction project has caused her revenues to drop by as much as 50 per cent. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Some businesses on 17th Avenue S.E. say road construction is taking a bite out of the bottom line.

International Avenue is being completely overhauled with dedicated bus lanes being added, along with new BRT stations, wider sidewalks and upgraded boulevards.

The first phase of the project runs from 28th Street to Hubalta Road S.E.

Salsa restaurant owner Karla Linares is looking forward to the improvements, but says her revenues have been cut in half since the construction on the first phase began outside her door in the summer.

And she's had to lay off staff as a result.

"It's hurt our business in some way because it's been very chaotic," she said. "There's been no parking, there's been a lot of construction, obviously, where they removed everything."

A map and timeline for construction along 17th Avenue S.E. (City of Calgary)

Additional angle parking has been added on side streets.

But it's not enough to appease Kenneth Qiu, manager of the Liquor Bank.

He says his store is losing money every day.

"Everybody says the construction kills the business," he said.

"The longer the construction runs, the bigger the damage to all the business, including ours."

This isn't the only 17th Avenue construction project in the city upsetting business owners.

Kenneth Qiu, manager of the Liquor Bank on 17th Avenue S.E. says ongoing construction has been damaging to his bottom line. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

A $44 million overhaul of 17th Avenue S.W. has also led to complaints, with some owners saying that project — which is expected to last for three years — is hurting sales. 

International Avenue BRZ head Alison Karim-McSwiney says the group has been working to limit the impact, including setting up a special team to help struggling businesses.

"If it's a matter of looking at some marketing issues or maybe it's just site visibility or they're having some access issues, we are dealing with those on a case-by-case basis," she said.

The city says the entire project, which is being done in stages, should be complete by the end of 2018.

With files from Jennifer Lee