Charlottetown businesses say they were left high and dry after water service disruption
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Charlottetown businesses say they were left high and dry after water service disruption

Oct 11, 2023

Some Charlottetown businesses say they didn't get enough warning their water would be shut off for much of the day Tuesday.

On Monday, the city issued a notice saying the Water and Sewer Utility would be conducting repairs to a leaking water valve near Grafton and Rochford streets.

The notice stated customers in the area would be without water from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. AT on Tuesday. The outage was later extended to 5:30 p.m.

Rod Santa Maria, general manager of Harbour House on Grafton Street, said the short notice didn't give the small hotel much time to reduce the impact on guests.

"[Today] was a very complicated day," he said, adding that it was one of the hotel's busiest days of the season.

"We had 60 guests in-house, so 60 breakfasts. And we didn't know about the water problem and the road closure until last evening."

Santa Maria said the disruption forced the hotel to ask guests to check out early and reduce its breakfast menu. He said many guests were understanding, but some asked for a refund.

He estimates his business lost about $1,000 because of the disruptions.

Hotels weren't the only businesses in the area affected by the outage.

Monique Foulem, owner of Salon Rouge, said she learned about the outage just before clients began to arrive for the day.

"We are closed on Monday.... I got a message at 9:30 a.m. saying, Did you see this? And I was pretty shocked," Foulem said. "So at 10 a.m., we were contacting clients trying to reschedule them."

Foulem said she initially thought of rescheduling clients for after 4 p.m. — the planned end of the disruption. But because that was pushed back, she said she lost a "whole day of revenue."

A city spokesperson said in a statement the work was done to upgrade aging infrastructure, including a leaking gate valve and six metres of water line.

"The City of Charlottetown prioritizes upgrading infrastructure to provide residents with constantly improving services," the statement said.

Both businesses said they understood the need for the work, but said they would have preferred to have more lead time to prepare for the disruption.

"At least let us know two days ahead to plan," Santa Maria said.

"I understand that this type of problem could happen anytime and that's totally fine if they need to repair everything. But we're not the only [ones] in here.… There is a lot of guests in this area. We could have planned this better."


Lisa Catterall is a journalist with CBC News on Prince Edward Island. She spent the first part of her career in local politics in Edmonton before completing a Masters in Investigative Journalism at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. You can reach her at [email protected].

With files from Jackie Sharkey