Albertans are still struggling with rising utility costs, and for those who also own a business, it's no different.

Among them are Mark and Lisa Watts, owners of Hub Town Brewing.

They opened their storefront on Elizabeth Street in 2019, and Lisa says the increase in utility costs since they first opened is nothing short of eye-popping.

"When we first opened the shop, we were roughly around $1400 a month of utilities for our power and our heat. As of this past month, we've just hit $9500."

That's an increase of 578 per cent.

The increase hasn't exactly been gradual either.

"The biggest jump was the month previous to last month. We saw the utility rate go from 19 cents per kilowatt hour to 33 cents per kilowatt hour. That's where we saw the biggest change."

Though Hub Town has expanded within their building to use more of their space since they first opened, Lisa says that's something they took into account when trying to figure out what's been going on.

"Mark was checking our usage and confirmed there was a negligible difference between the two months. Even if you look at when we first opened, even though we only opened half of the building we still paid the heating and power for the upper level as well, so we really haven't changed much since the beginning until now in terms of our usage."

Like many businesses, some of which have had to close, it's just one of a few financial blows the Watts are having to take month after month.

"We took four paycheques in 2022, and in 2023, none. Our costs have gone so high and so through the roof in so many ways. This is just one piece of the puzzle that's causing the damage."

"We're digging into it, we've spoken to our mayor, sent a message to our MLA, and spoken to our MP, so we're looking at all levels of government to figure out what's going on and why these changes are so significant in such a short amount of time, and looking for some guidance on how businesses are supposed to survive changes we can't control."

Nothing concrete has come up yet, but the Town of Okotoks did suggest a bulk purchase of power by the business community in order to negotiate a lower rate.

Being on the board of directors on the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce, she's also working with them to advocate on behalf of local businesses.

Lisa is hoping for some understanding for anyone shopping local.

"One of the things we struggle with as business owners is the misconception that businesses are flooded with money and are doing so amazing. Unfortunately, that's not the reality. The reality is we're barely scraping by, and I'd imagine that's true for a majority of businesses coming out of the pandemic right now. I think it'd be really great if there was an understanding that we don't want to raise prices, it's not something we want to do, but sometimes in order to survive that might be where we have to go."

As business owners, it leaves them in the position of choosing whether or not to pass their own expenses onto their customers, who are also struggling with rising food and utility costs.

"When we opened, we started selling our beer at seven dollars a glass and it's still seven dollars a glass because we're terrified of pushing it onto the customers. We can't risk less customers coming through the door and putting it on them when they didn't ask for it any more than we did."