Moose Jaw business folding after year of street construction woes
Scuba Guys' Dive Shop following pattern of businesses leaving High Street
A business that has operated in Moose Jaw for nearly two decades is closing its doors.
Curtis Temple, owner of Scuba Guys' Dive Shop in Moose Jaw, announced Friday on social media that his business is shutting down.
Temple blames road work on High Street, where the dive shop is located. He said construction equipment has been in front of his business for most of the past year, with the road ripped up and traffic blocked on both ends for months.
"People were not able to get to my shop for basically 10 months out of the last year," Temple said. "It cost me about $10,000 a month in sales which was just too much for me to continue to maintain."
Temple said he is very disappointed with how the city handled the situation. He said he came to the store one day but couldn't get in. When he eventually did, he found out the water had been shut off. There was no running water at his shop for a month and a half, despite calls to the city.
"We were basically shut out without any information as to what was going to go on," he said.
City says 200 block not effected
According to a spokesperson for the City of Moose Jaw, the 300-800 blocks of High Street were under construction as part of phase two of the city's Water Main Replacement Program in 2017.
"While some traffic restrictions were in place in the affected blocks at various points during construction, no water main construction took place on the 200 block where Scuba Guys' is located," said the city spokesperson in an email to CBC. "At all times there would have been access to the 200 block in at least one direction."
It's very sad. I've put my heart and soul into having a very exclusive, but high quality business in the province.- Curtis Temple, Scuba Guys' Dive Shop owner
The city said the contractor was unable to complete the project on schedule during the 2017 construction season, as per the contract. The 300-800 blocks of High Street were left unpaved but remained open through the winter and spring.
The City took over the project from the contractor in May and finished the work in early August.
Portions of High Street had to be blocked to traffic during construction over the summer, but the city said alternative access points to businesses were available.
"The City sympathizes with property owners and residents, and shares frustration that the project was not completed on schedule in 2017," the city statement continued.
Diving community crushed
Temple has spent 18 years teaching diving classes, selling equipment, doing recovery diving and building commercial spaces. He said his regular customers have travelled from Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Yorkton to visit his shop.
Temple said he was spending about $2,000-3,000 a month on advertising trying to draw people in but people couldn't get to his store. He said drivers have avoided the area so long that even though construction is done, he can't rebuild his customer base.
"It's very sad. I've put my heart and soul into having a very exclusive, but high quality business in the province," he said. "I've met a lot of really good people while I've been teaching classes and doing work.
"I've really enjoyed what I do."
After the closure announcement, support poured in over social media.
Brian Lanktree wrote, "I am so sad to hear this. I can't say the enjoyment of having taken all my classes after advanced open water, right up to assistant instructor through your shop. Your professionalism and genuine concern for all your students is something you don't easily find. A big shout out for all you have done for the diving community in general."
4 other businesses flee High Street
And Temple isn't the only business owner that has fled High Street.
Angie Pisio is the owner of Believe in Beauty Tanning Salon which was once just down the street from Scuba Guys' Dive Shop.
In June 2017, Pisio said the city told her the street would be closed for two or three weeks during construction.
Afraid that timeline would be extended, she applied for a license to work from home, which the city approved.
Road construction started in July and Pisio was out by mid-August. With expenses nearing $2,500 a month, Pisio said she couldn't risk customers avoiding her business due to lack of parking,
"I would not have survived. I would've went bankrupt for sure had I not moved," Pisio said. "You had to walk blocks to get to us."
"I really don't know who could survive 13 months of business being that interrupted."
Instead of staying, Pisio invested $10,000 to outfit her house to suit her tanning business.
Pisio's landlord on High St. lost all three tenants in his building. Along with the tanning salon, a cellphone repair shop and a pregnancy centre both vacated the area.
"We had to," said Pisio. "There was no business."
Adding insult to injury, High Street West was voted the 2018 CAA Saskatchewan Worst Road of 2018.
"It was just ridiculous, holes everywhere," Pisio said. "You would almost wreck your vehicle driving down the street."
Temple said the business owners affected are discussing whether to sue the city over the fiasco, but as far as he's concerned, the damage is already done.
Temple said he plans to close for good by the end of November. Now, he's trying to sell his inventory to businesses in the same industry and said he expects to put the building up for sale in the next week.