In the early hours of Feb. 24, the historic Lethbridge Hotel caught fire, destroying a significant portion of the building.
It was also the beginning of troubles for businesses and residents along 2nd Avenue S. and 5th Street S.
“I’m sure myself and all the other businesses on our block, we got woken up to text messages, emails, messages asking if our businesses were OK. Thankfully, all of our businesses were OK, at least in our building,” said Chantale Noel, owner of Hole Lotta Love Piercing Studio.
Some businesses surrounding the hotel had to close due to smoke damage.
Those that managed to stay up struggled due to fences and barricades set up by the city as part of cleanup efforts and safety precautions.
Foot traffic was cut by as much as 75 per cent, according to businesses across the street from the hotel.
“If we have 10 customers a day, now we have two customers. First, everybody thought we were closed. And second, the weather didn’t help because it was very cold and nobody wants to walk like four blocks to come and eat at our restaurant,” said Imad Dalank, owner of Beirut Shawarma and Kabab.
A bad situation was made worse on March 7, when a nearby water main broke and left several feet of water in the basements of the nearby businesses.
That forced what businesses had managed to stay open to close until the damage from the flooding could be fixed.
“The fire department comes in and tells us all we have to leave. The basement was flooding … Unfortunately, our one neighbour, Atomic Cannabis, his business is completely destroyed. The rest of us have faired as well as we can, considering,” Noel said.
Business owners are frustrated by what they’ve had to deal with the past few weeks.
They want to know when they can reopen and when demolition of the hotel will be finished.
“We pay taxes like everybody else. We pay bills like everybody else. We just need the city to put some attention here on this corner,” Dalank said.
The City of Lethbridge says it understands why businesses around the Lethbridge Hotel are frustrated, but it can’t provide a timeline on when the