The province needs to step up and help small business owners still struggling to recover from the fallout of the crane collapse in downtown Halifax, says Dartmouth South MLA Claudia Chender.
“We see the government writing what appears to be a blank cheque to deal with the crane that they say they may or may not be able to recoup, but we’ve heard nothing about financial compensation for these business owners,” said Chender on Thursday.
Chender had arranged a meeting last week with affected business owners and Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan. While MacLellan offered no promises of compensation he said he would look into the possibility.
MacLellan said that no specific relief fund exists to help the group forced out of their businesses for weeks while crews worked to remove the crane off a residential development bordering South Park Street. But he said he was looking into what assistance could be available. MacLellan said he would meet with Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter soon to discuss options.
It’s been more than three months since the crane collapsed during post-tropical storm Dorian. The province immediately took on the cost of the cleanup, calling a state of emergency and evacuating the area. The province is in the process of attempting to recoup the estimated $2 million in costs.
Chender said the province has largely ignored the business owners, failing to communicate with them on the cleanup process and when they would be able to return to their businesses. She said there are about six businesses in the South Park Street area that were seriously impacted. Their insurance fell well short of covering the basics, said Chender. She said the government could easily establish a small assistance fund amounting to a few hundred thousand dollars.
“They’re not asking for millions of dollars,' said Chender. 'A small fund maybe in the order of a few hundred thousand dollars could alleviate some construction mediation issues.'
Most of the businesses survived because they had a second location, she said. They include Stillwell, Twiggz and Manual Food and Drink Co.
Olympus building developer Wadih Fares and crane owner Lead Structural Formwork Ltd. are facing a class-action suit. Wagners Law Firm filed the suit in October, representing residents and businesses displaced by the collapse.