'It's very frustrating': Exchange District businesses upset over surprise road closure
The surprise closure of an Exchange District street has business owners looking for answers on why they weren't given any notice.
Fleet Galleries owner Jeff Gasenzer was surprised to see construction signs go up in front of his store on Friday.
Listed on the City of Winnipeg's map of lane closures as a complete closure, the city said a contractor is doing private work on the stretch of Albert Street and McDermot Avenue.
"I never heard a thing, and they never came to say how long it's going to be so I could at least inform my clients," said Gasenzer.
Across the street, Plant Lab Botanical Design said they weren't notified about the construction either.
"Knowing I'm going into weekend business and the setup is very detrimental to walk-in and drive-by traffic, it's very frustrating," said owner Krystle Pagkalinawan.
Pagkalinawan said she holds markets in the vacant storefront next door on Saturdays but had to cancel it after vendors pulled out due to the construction.
According to the City of Winnipeg's manual of temporary traffic control, contractors conducting lane closures must contact neighbouring properties three business days in advance if access is affected.
"Please note that it was originally anticipated that some through traffic would be permitted during the construction work (not a full road closure); however, the contractor encountered safety issues that necessitated a full closure of the roadway until it could address the issue," read part of a statement from the City of Winnipeg.
As outlined in the manual of temporary traffic control, in emergency situations that threaten public safety or are a public hazard, the contractor is authorized to eliminate the public hazard immediately.
Janice Lukes, the committee chair of public works, said efforts must be made to support businesses in Winnipeg's downtown.
"It's really important to make sure all these avenues understand that downtown is a priority and ensure the proper avenues are in place," she said. "To ensure proper signage is up, to ensure proper notification has occurred. Pedestrians and cyclists have proper wayfinding when streets are closed."
The construction was originally scheduled to finish on April 1, but an update from the City of Winnipeg Monday afternoon says it will finish on March 24.
The City of Winnipeg noted traffic will also be let through the zone during the morning and afternoon rush hour starting March 21.
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