Still reeling from the impact of the COVID pandemic, a Maple Ridge businessperson is claiming his company has received a “death blow” from the province.
With only a day’s notice, Haney Hotel owner Yvan Charette was informed the main access to his business was being closed – for good.
“Imagine being given 24 hours notice that your main artery for your small business is going to (be) taken away, after being there for close to 50 years,” he said, noting that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure literally dug up and blocked the western entrance to his business at the corner of the Haney Bypass and Lougheed Highway.
“Cutting off the retail store access, after having just opened our restaurants from three months of [COVID] closure, will cost my business,” he said, accusing the ministry of “dropping the ball” in adequately notifying him.
If he’d been given the chance, Charette said that he would have argued the need for that access point – one of three entrances to the business. So, he told The News, he’s pleading with the ministry to come to the table to discuss options.
Loss of the main entrance will reduce ease of access, which he insisted will ultimately mean a drop in sales. And with less sales it could well mean a loss of jobs and eventually – he suspects – the demise of his operation.
“We need our store access, we need it to keep the property viable and accessible to our loyal patrons. We need it to employ people, as well as paying the massive tax bill that commercial properties are strapped with all over the Lower Mainland,” he said, noting that in addition to providing jobs for dozens of people through the years, Haney Hotel also helps raise about $100,000 a year for various local charities such as hospice, the food bank, and the hamper society.
“I rarely reach out for assistant to help in a fight, but my situation is dire,” Charette said, adding that he’s stressed, upset, and worried there will be more jobs lost as a direct result of this move. He’s already operating with only 35 to 45 per cent of his normal staffing level, as a result of COVID.
“Ministry of Transporation thought leaving me with an impossible 180-degree turn into a single access lane in front of our property would be sufficient. It is not at all,” he said.
When plans were unveiled for the Haney Bypass construction project a few years ago, Charette said he was at The ACT for the public consultation process.
“I saw nothing of the sort,” he said of plans to close his western entrance, which is directly in front of the liquor store and restaurant. Then, this week, boom, it was gone.
“Having no consultation, no notice and zero collaboration. There has to be a better, more positive solution that ensures a fair compromise for everyone. However, you just sit there being told… ‘you should have been notified’,” Charette added.
The ministry, when asked about the move, said the decision was justified by the fact that the 222nd Street and Highway 7 intersection has collision rates that are twice the provincial average, said media spokesperson Danielle Pope.
“As part of the Highway 7 Haney Bypass Intersection Improvements Project, the ministry introduced measures to improve safety at that intersection,” she added, noting only one of the three accesses to the Haney Hotel was closed.
“This access, on provincial right-of-way, was just 15 metres east of the Highway 7/222nd Street intersection and did not meet current standards for safety. There is a second access on Highway 7, about 40 metres east of the one that was closed, as well as a back access off North Avenue,” Pope said.
Charette said: “I need help getting me to the table to be a part of a responsible compromise that creates accountability to a taxpayer, a small business owner, and local supporter.”
In fact, Pope clarified that ministry staff are meeting with Charette this week to discuss the change and see “what more can be done to ensure safe, visible access to the business.”
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