What About Equity?
When the LRT extension was being built in Mill Woods, Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang heard many complaints from businesses. She said 28th Avenue was gutted. And she wonders if those business owners will wonder “why now?” when it comes to compensation. If the motion is triggered by complaints from businesses in the west end, the question will come — are some neighbourhoods more equal than others?
“I worry about the message it sends to businesses who went through this previously. What about us? Have we been forgotten?” said Tang, who said compensation would best be handled in the form of other grants.
Sohi said he was under the impression in 2022, when he supported Knack, that aid would be retroactively given to businesses that have already suffered through long-term construction projects. Without it, he said the program would be inequitable.
Knack said he supports the idea of retroactive aid, but in previous discussions, got the feeling that there wasn’t an appetite for it amongst his fellow councillors.
“As much as I do think we owe it to them, I don’t think it’s something I’ve heard support for.”
Where Does It Stop?
Coun. Erin Rutherford has heard complaints from both home and business owners in her ward, which is affected by the construction work on the Yellowhead. She said residents near the 127th Street/Yellowhead intersection are so bothered by dust and noise, they’ve even asked for property-tax breaks.
But, that’s the question. If businesses get compensation, does it open a Pandora’s Box? Will residents claim injury, as well?
(At this point, for transparency’s sake, I have to notify the readers that my family’s home is directly impacted by LRT construction.)
“They make some really valid arguments, like, if I want to sell, I am stuck with this house,” said Rutherford.
She also questioned which projects are big enough to qualify, and which ones are too small. She said there’s a liquor store owner who called her, despondent about the effects a smaller construction project was having on the business. Who determines who can qualify, and who doesn’t? Rutherford said the City might create “have and have nots.”