RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — One Steveston merchant says the long-weekend ban on cars along her street has been a costly, failed experiment.
Laura Stapleton owns the Fab Pad, a vintage furniture, decor and apparel shop on Moncton Street. Richmond city council closed a stretch of that street for the B.C. Day long weekend.
Stapleton, who is also a board member of the Steveston Merchants Association tells NEWS 1130 Sunday that foot traffic has not made up for the lack of vehicle access.
“It has definitely really put a damper on business. Yesterday was probably the least busy day I’ve seen since lockdown days really. It was incredibly dead in terms of pedestrian traffic.”
FYI Moncton St has been “pedestrianized” for the ENTIRE long weekend, costing the taxpayers around $40K. Look how well…
City council also closed several blocks of Moncton Street on Canada Day, while reducing traffic on Bayview Street to one lane.
“Because of course, it rained so much on July 1 they didn’t really feel that their experiment had been successful — or at least they couldn’t draw any conclusions from it — so they decided to do it again on the B.C. Day long weekend without any real consultation with the merchants,” Stapleton says.
“They just kind of went ahead and did the B.C. Day one.”
According to a report to Richmond city council, staff told businesses about the long-weekend closure between July 15 and 20, at the same time they surveyed them about continuing the traffic changes for the rest of August.
“[City staff] contacted all businesses with addresses on Moncton Street and Bayview Street to inform them of the temporary changes that will be in effect from August 1 to 3 and to seek their input and feedback regarding the possibility of extending these changes beyond the long weekend,” it reads.
Stapleton says the closure was poorly planned and executed.
“It was definitely a multi-pronged impact and it was not handled well. It wasn’t promoted as a car-free day or anything like that. There was not a lot of advanced warning to the merchants, they weren’t given any ideas as to how they might be able to move some of their operations onto the street, especially in the case of a restaurant where they could have a street-side patio open for business,” she says.
“They had a giant digital sign right near the intersection of Number 1 Road and Chatham that said, ‘Moncton Street Closed.’ I think a lot of people saw that and maybe assumed there was a film production or something going on, because that was frequently the case pre-coronavirus. They probably just turned around and left.”
Richmond city council decided not to extend these closures past Aug. 3 after surveying businesses.
“There was no clear consensus regarding the option of extending the planned temporary changes,” says a report to council.
Instead, traffic on Moncton Street will be limited to one lane until at least the end of August.
Stapleton says this is a “happy medium.”
“You will have a one-way loop there. The idea behind that is to be able to provide more walking space, basically, extend the sidewalk to ensure physical distancing,” she says.
“In terms of it being safer for people to come to Steveston, and giving them more room to walk, I think it’s actually a great idea while still being able to keep traffic. Obviously we’re going to use a few parking spots but the bottom line is that people will still be able to drop off those with mobility issues, businesses will still be able to get deliveries, and that kind of thing.”
But she still has questions about how that plan will play out.
“It would be nice to hear something from the city about exactly how they’re going to implement that plan, and then maybe something to support the merchants along the way.”
Right now she says it is not clear if businesses will be able to expand into the extra space created by the lane closure.
” I really don’t know if there’s going to be any of that or if it’s just solely for pedestrians.”