Group urges cities to compensate businesses for road construction losses

The CFIB says it's time to pay back businesses for the money they've lost to ongoing road construction.

Traffic tie-ups are a part of the daily grind for many of Canada's commuters. While these obstacles are often unavoidable – caused by heightened congestion – ongoing road construction is a frequent  contributor to the motor vehicle mass, leaving drivers frustrated by lengthy wait times in slow-moving lanes.

But motorists aren't the only ones singing the traffic jam blues; business are as well, as seemingly unending road repair has them losing a lot of green due to a variety of inconveniences, based on the results of a newly released report.

Over 65,000 companies affected by road construction
Since 2012, at least 65,000 companies in Canada have been adversely impacted by construction occurring on the nation's thoroughfares, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Some of these side effects have come in the form of fewer sales, added costs and increased stress experienced by business owners, although the study didn't reference the type of stress in particular that respondents experienced.

It's the accumulation of these road construction consequences that has the CFIB calling on local governments to provide an inconvenience fee to the tens of thousands of medium and small businesses that have felt the effects.

Simon Gaudreault, director of economic affairs at the CFIB, noted that the headaches and frustrations caused by road work aren't going away anytime soon given the heads-up provincial legislatures have put forward.

"Governments have announced hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure projects over the next few years," Gaudreault explained in a recent press release. "However, none of this funding has been earmarked to compensate the businesses that will be significantly affected by these projects. Considering the strong negative impact on some businesses, it would be irresponsible if governments did nothing to help them mitigate the negative consequences or better manage the projects."

Gaudreault went on to say that these kinds of issues go further than being mere inconveniences. The livelihoods of businesses are at stake if governments don't make amends.

Businesses already have enough to deal with traffic wise from a standpoint of driving safety. For instance, in Ontario, the leading cause of workplace fatalities derive from car crashes, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labor.

For this reason, the Ministry of Labor, in partnership with Safety, Health & Risk Management departments from Wilfrid Laurier University, created a new initiative called En Route to Safety. The program is meant to serve as a free online resource businesses can utilize to better equip their workers with the proper tools and training they need to get to their workplace without incident, whether they bike , walk or drive.

Road improvements still necessitate compensation, CFIB says
Some of the road construction occurring on the nation's highways and byways are to improve the safety of said streets. However, the CFIB believes this goal doesn't discount the ill effects ongoing infrastructure projects have on the country's economy. Indeed, based on its polling, the CFIB found that 41 percent of surveyed businesses have been negatively impacted by road work, with 5 percent adversely affected to a significant degree.

How so? More than 45 percent of respondents said sales have suffered as a result, 23 percent felt greater levels of stress and 21 percent indicated the financial consequences forced them to tap into their business or personal savings accounts, the CFIB found.

"These results show that too often, local businesses struggle during public infrastructure projects [by] shouldering unfair economic costs that are being off-loaded on them," Gaudreault stated.  In other words, municipalities need to pick up some of the financial slack.   

The CFIB's economic affairs director added that with summer approaching, which tends to be the peak time of year where road construction takes place, municipalities ought to take an initiative and financially remunerate the businesses that suffer in silence to make up for the lost time. Gaudreault further stated compensating businesses for road work isn't a newfangled idea, as Seattle; Sydney, Australia; and Brussels, Germany, have adopted similar measures.