City In Running For Dubious National Business Award


It might not be the most prestigious award out there but none the less it is one the City of Moose Jaw has just been awarded.

As part of their annual Red Tape Awareness Week the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has bestowed upon the City a Paperweight Award for the Phase Two Cast Iron Replacement Project and how it negatively affected High Street West businesses.

“The award is given for the worst of the worst for red tape,” said Jennifer Henshaw, Senior Policy Analyst for the Prairie Region.

The Paperweight Award was bestowed on the City for “a compete lack of communication, water shut off for weeks to businesses and some actually receiving water bills for the time they had no water service,” Henshaw said, adding in one case the lack of water had “crippled” one business owner’s store.

“The point of the award is to shine a light and we hope they learn from this award…we hope that history does not repeat itself,” she said.

High Street in May 2018 - File Photo

High Street in May 2018 - File Photo

In the history of giving out the Paperweight Award this is the first time in a couple of years that there is a Saskatchewan recipient. The last one went to the Province for the paperwork needed to swap out a stat holiday.

This year there were only nine national winners of the Paperweight Award.

“We had a pretty strong nomination for the City of Moose Jaw,” she said.

Asked about a business that had complained about the lack of water to their business and the effect it had on them Henshaw termed it “crazy” when hearing about the attempts the business owner had to make to contact the City to express their concerns.

“One of the main reasons they (City of Moose Jaw) got a paperweight was the complete lack of customer service for the businesses on High Street West.”

Asked if the CFIB| had ever received a response from the City of Moose Jaw, Henshaw said they had regarding their request to help mitigate the financial losses for the most affected businesses but had been flatly turned down.

“We did receive a response from the City of Moose Jaw but they replied to mitigate the losses it would hamper their ability to install infrastructure in the city and set a precedent…we weren’t looking for special treatment but wanted to be treated fairly,” she said adding they were looking for possibly waving property taxes for the year or not charging for business licenses for the most affected. See Related CFIB Approaches Council

“We were asking for just common sense.”

Temporary Sidewalk Repair on High Street West May 2018 - File Photo

Temporary Sidewalk Repair on High Street West May 2018 - File Photo

Although the City of Moose Jaw has been honoured with the Paperweight Award there is still on-line voting where business owners can vote for the national winner until January 25th. Voting can be done through the CFIB’s Facebook Page or alternatively through their web-site as well. Click here

“It’s a shame that we are getting this award due to the City of Moose Jaw’s mismanagement and the lack of communication during the delayed water main replacement on High Street West. I wish [the City] was getting a better award instead of a Paperweight. As a small business owner, what the City did absolutely crippled our store. I hope they learn from this award and realize that their actions affect business owners, their livelihood and the community,” said Don McKenzie, owner of Water Vision Services, an impacted business on High Street West in a press release.

Red Tape Awareness Week is an annual week put on by the CFIB to raise awareness of the hurdles small independent businesses face in running their business from various levels of government. The week runs from January 21 - 25, 2019.

The High Street West cast iron water main project was embroiled in controversy as the work extended for months past the original scheduled completion date. The delays impacted area businesses as one of the most busiest streets in the city was in such rough shape it won an on-line poll by the Canadian Automobile Association naming it the Worst Road In Saskatchewan. See Related High Street is CAA winner

The City ended up taking over the project from main contractor Ungar Construction of Theodore, Saskatchewan. See Related City Takes Charge

Ungar Construction disputed the City’s claims and vowed legal action. It is unknown what is the status of the dispute at press time. See Related Unger Blames City

An attempt to obtain comment from Mayor Frasier Tolmie before deadline was unsuccessful as he is out of town today. But keeping with our policy of allowing all to speak on an issue if they so choose when he returns we will attempt to get a comment.

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