BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Water flowing over a section of First Street North has started to recede leaving behind a layer of mud and debris. The Assiniboine River has gone down somewhat on parts of First Street North, but assessment has yet to begin. Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation is responsible for the assessing the condition of the road and making the necessary repairs. The road is under provincial jurisdiction as an extension of Highway 10. An assessment will not be made until the water is completely off the road and it could remain closed for a few more weeks.
Retail purchases, hotel stays, restaurant sales — the summer flood has negatively impacted local commerce across the board, according to the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
Businesses on the North Hill particularly have experienced a lull due to the closure of First Street North and the traffic congestion on 18th Street.
"We had comments from a couple of restaurateurs in the Corral Centre … they’ve had a couple of their slowest days on record since 2011," chamber president Todd Birkhan said. "We’re telling people to avoid that area, so traffic in that area is down — it absolutely is not having a positive impact on especially that area."
Jon Moore, manager at Montana’s Cookhouse at the Corral Centre, said the restaurant was slow during dike construction and other flood protection preparations.
"It did hurt us a little bit," he said. "It was quite a bit slower, but we expected it obviously … we wanted to make sure the water doesn’t get through."
When comparing the 2014 flood to what they experienced in 2011, though, Moore said it is "100 times better." The Corral Centre was evacuated in 2011, and Montana’s was forced to close for 10 days.
"I can’t thank the city enough for doing what they did with the diking system," he said. "Thank goodness we did not have to close, so we did not have to jeopardize the staff."
Meanwhile, the Riverbank Discovery Centre remains evacuated, for the second time in three years. Officials have temporarily set up a kiosk with some souvenirs and Brandon tourism information at the Shoppers Mall.
"It’s a bit disheartening," said Lois MacDonald, manager of Riverbank Development and Tourism Services. "It’s hard for us, because July and August are our absolute busiest months from a visitor perspective."
Typically at this time of year, there can be hundreds of people coming through the Discovery Centre per day. With the closure, the non-profit organization is missing out on souvenir sales and revenue from room bookings.
"We’ve had to cancel all of our multi-purpose room bookings for the next couple weeks," she said. "We were supposed to have the ... car show this past weekend, and so we were just kind of to the point where everyone was getting used to being able to come back and access the centre ... and now it’s ... set us back on our heels."
The Paw Resort and Wellness Centre, located off Grand Valley Road about five kilometres west of 18th Street North, has been "business as usual." However, as owner Frank Nichols says, they have been taking a lot of calls for directions.
Some clients have rescheduled grooming appointments while Grand Valley Road is closed.
"There is the odd person who is not that keen on directions, so they don’t want to venture out onto the highway … they just re-book," he said. "That’s mainly the trouble."
To get to The Paw, clients can take Hunter Road south, located about three kilometres west of 18th Street off the Trans-Canada Highway.
Flooding in the southwest corner of the province has many Manitobans dealing with cleanup and lost crops.
"When your crops are not doing well, or are not there period, then you’re not spending money on your inputs and your maintenance and your servicing and all of those normal costs that typically would accrue to Brandon," said Sandy Trudel, the city’s economic development director.
If the revenues expected from these crops aren’t realized, then it’s that much less money available to be spent within the region.
From the oil industry perspective, many employees are not earning the same level that they might have during peak times.
"We do know that the water has shut down a lot of the oil activity," Trudel said. "The supplies that would keep them going and the servicing and the maintenance, all of that, of course, trickles off as well."
Virden Chamber of Commerce president Travis Rintoul said now that the water levels are starting to recede, the cleanup begins.
"It’s really widespread," he said. "Retail businesses, places like Mainline Motors, for example, or Four Seasons, they had a lot of water in their actual retail store."
The agriculture sector has been "hugely impacted," he added. Rintoul said some farmers didn’t even get their crops in, while others got only 70 per cent of their acres seeded.
"Usually when you hear about flooding, it’s … because of snow melt or ice jams," he said. "You don’t often hear of just overland flooding caused by excessive rain in the middle of summer — it’s certainly unique and unprecedented."
Both Brandon and Virden chambers of commerce remind people that they are still open for business.
"We certainly encourage people to still shop in the Virden area if they can," Rintoul said.
Birkhan encourages people to support Brandon businesses as much as possible to "keep your dollars local."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 19, 2014