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Gastown businesses losing millions due to Water Street construction, society says

Businesses in Vancouver’s Gastown say they are losing out on millions of dollars of revenue due to ongoing construction.

The City of Vancouver began work in Gastown roughly two months ago, ahead of its summer pilot of having Water Street a car-free area for July and August.

The $10-million construction project is part of the city’s 2023-2026 capital plan with the aim of revitalizing the area. Interim repairs began at Maple Tree Square in early March.

Repairs included replacing damaged brick and asphalt patches with new brick pavers.

However, the ongoing construction has hindered businesses in the area, according to the Gastown Business Improvement Society.

The society said businesses are reporting significant losses in revenue since the construction began. The society represents more than 600 retail stores in Gastown.

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“We are looking at probably half a million dollars a week,” Gastown BIA executive director Wally Wargolet said.

“Construction has been going on for 10 weeks so $5 million in lost revenue for many of our businesses here … it’s a huge hit.”

Many businesses told the society they are reaching a “breaking point.”

With Water Street turning into a car-free area during the summer months, businesses said they understand it will be good for tourism and tourism business, but worry the lack of parking will prevent locals from shopping in the neighbourhood.

“More gripes about the parking situation which was not great to begin with,” said Simon Farrell, with Robba Da Matti restaurant. “A lot of people just ask what is going on”

The society also has questions about the City of Vancouver’s “lack of support” for public sanitation issues in Gastown, as well as perceived risks with the coming street closures in the summer months and how it will affect businesses.

“We are going to be getting some signage up so folks, as they try to find their way into Gastown, will be able to see that,” Wargolet said.

“The city council is also helping us continue our free parking initiative with a grant investment so these are all positive things it’s just they were a little slower than what we would like.”‘

Vancouver Coun. Peter Meiszner said the city is doing “what it can” to try and address concerns.

“We have signage all around the neighbourhood to encourage people to come visit the neighbourhood but the pilot is really the centrepiece of what is going to be a great summer for Gastown in terms of the programming,” he said.

“We are going to have, seating, the patios. There will be a lot happening in July and August, we just have to get through this period with the road repairs.”

Previously, the City of Vancouver said the permanent design for the area is still being worked on as part of the Gastown Public Spaces Plan.

The city has received public consultation for the plan and is now reviewing how to move forward.

With files from Grace Ke

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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