VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver becoming an NHL hub city is possible, and the Canucks could be just what downtown businesses need to stay afloat, according to a downtown business group.
Downtown Vancouver BIA had been calling on the province to let more people enjoy a Canucks Night in downtown bars and restaurants.
“We need to do something to jumpstart the economy because it’s not happening on its own,” says Charles Gauthier, president of the BIA. “I think people are being tentative in terms of going back, for example, to the restaurants, even though they’ve done an excellent job in terms of taking all the necessary precautions to ensure it’s safe for diners.”
Gauthier says the BIA wanted the provincial government to lift its current restrictions on bar and restaurant capacity because the 50 per cent limit on restaurants, has been “posing to be extremely challenging for restauranteurs to be able to operate.”
The province amended its rules on capacity this week, which was welcomed by the BIA, but does still cap the number of patron at 50.
Most downtown bars and restaurants used to draw huge numbers on Canucks nights. If that could become a reality again, it could offset the huge losses most have been taking.
Gauthier suggests anything to boost numbers would be welcomed right now since office workers, the core clientele for bars and restaurants in the area, just aren’t there.
“Employees’ return to work is really slow. I’m hearing numbers where office buildings are between 10 and 20 per cent occupied,” he says, adding the lack of tourism is also a problem.
Several places aren’t able to expand their patio space to accommodate more patrons, Gauthier says.
“If we go through this much longer, it could have some serious detrimental impacts on our downtown business members.”
He adds the longer it takes to reach Phase 3 and 4 in B.C’s restart plan, the more challenging it will be for those businesses.
On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan announced the provincial health officer has signed off on the NHL’s proposed plan to host in B.C.
Vancouver was shortlisted as one of the hub cities last month.
An announcement on that is expected any day.