A letter penned by Exchange District business owners to the Winnipeg mayor is pleading for the city's help to bring people back the area.
The letter said a series of recent changes initiated by the City of Winnipeg have created “devastating conditions” to Exchange District Businesses.
Trouble has been brewing for Haberdashery Guys & Girls in the Exchange District, one of more than 65 businesses that signed the letter.
"Almost every single customer comes in and says 'I couldn't find a place to park,'" said Luke Nolan, owner of Haberdashery Guys & Girls. "For me every sale is precious. If someone can't find parking then they won't come to the shop, and you've lost that customer possibly forever."
Nolan said recent changes to the area have hurt his business, and he’s not alone. Many other businesses said they are experiencing the same issue.
This prompted the letter and petition sent to Mayor Brian Bowman this week.
Obby Khan was one of the business owners spearheading the letter. He told CTV News business was growing between 2013 and 2016, but the trend changed in 2017.
"We're down almost 15 to 20 per cent. Close to six figures dropped in sales. As a small business six figures is huge," Khan said.
He said the main changes that have hurt business are a reduction of parking spaces, new bike lanes, and an increase in parking rates to $3.50 per hour.
"$3.50 is more than half of what it costs to eat at my restaurant. Why would you pay that?”
In the letter to Bowman, the three main requests were to stop what Khan called “knee-jerk reactions” -when the city makes decisions without the consultation and consent of the business owners in the area.
The other requests were to reduce parking rates to the 2017 prices and restoring on-street parking metres to one per side of street per block, and to fix the damage already done to the area.
"All we're saying is 'city help us out, city help us make the downtown core fantastic again',” Khan said.
Khan said the mayor has since reached out to the Exchange District BIZ, which leaves him hopeful.
"Now the proof is in the pudding. Let's see what they can do in the next three to six months."
As for Nolan, he is joining many other business owners in asking Winnipeggers to come down to help support the area.
"We got a great community down here, we all love what each other's doing, and we want to stay,” he said.
The mayor could not be reached for comment today. The city said the public service is looking into the concerns.