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Businesses buckle as village construction continues

Some small businesses look to municipality for compensation of lost sales



The owner of the Whistler Hemp Company is looking for some kind of compensation from the municipality for living in a village construction zone over the last three years.

The construction, particularly the ongoing and extensive renovations to the Crystal Lodge, has had a devastating impact on his business. He's not sure how much longer he'll survive.

"It's so difficult what we're going through right now," said owner Gord Johns. "I don't know how we're going to keep going."

Last year council approved the renovations to the Crystal Lodge, on the heels of renovations at the nearby Telus Conference Centre and Village Square.

The cumulative impact of those projects has been enormous, particularly for those businesses in the Timberline Lodge, which have been next to or under construction sites for nearly three years.

"It's these big players (such as Burrard International, the owners of the Crystal Lodge) getting their renos done before the Olympics at the cost of little players like us," said Johns. "There won't be any little guys left.

"We're just hanging on to the last thread here."

Business at the Whistler Hemp Company has plummeted this year. The company was down 50 per cent over the summer and has been down ever since.

Though Johns doesn't have exact figures for his losses, he estimates it's no less than $75,000.

And while there have been other contributing factors, such as the poor snow year, he attributes most of that loss to the Crystal Lodge renovations, which were supposed to be finished four months ago. He has seen a direct co-relation to scaffolding and equipment outside his shop and the loss of sales in the till.

"When they block us we'll do no sales all day," Johns said simply.

Donald Lee, executive vice president of the Crystal Lodge, said they have done their best to minimize the disruption to the neighbours.

"Some times these projects, when you get into them, there are issues arising and it does take some time to complete," he said.

"We are working as quickly as possible and as efficiently as possible."

But the Whistler Hemp Company isn't the only one in the Timberline Lodge, which is right beside the Crystal Lodge, feeling the impacts of this redevelopment. In a letter to the municipality, which was received by council on Monday night, Evolution owner Jenine Bourbonnais said the Crystal construction "has impacted my business monstrously," pointing to the noise, dust, construction debris, machinery and obstruction to the store fronts.

"The municipality approved this construction; please admit that it has some responsibility to the tax paying businesses affected by the construction."

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