WHITE ROCK (NEWS 1130) – Waterfront restaurants in White Rock now have the option to extend their patio space, but a local councillor says the lane closure is a possibly dangerous decision.
Marine Drive is down to one eastbound lane as of Monday, allowing restaurants the ability to serve people outdoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, while the measure is meant to help struggling businesses, some are concerned about the impact to traffic.
“We asked staff to bring back a report of the feasibility and the report was very damning. The staff said don’t even attempt to do this, the police and fire both had very grave concerns,” says White Rock City Councillor David Chesney.
He believes the closure will force westbound drivers onto side streets.
“And the residents are incredibly concerned, especially on Victoria Avenue where there are no sidewalks currently, and cars parked on both sides of the road, forcing the pedestrians and people walking their dogs to have to move out into the lane of traffic,” Chesney explained.
“There are so many concerns that have been expressed by the community … the list is long,” he added, noting cement barriers have already been installed on Marine Drive, to protect you if you’re sitting on the road.
“Now, we’ll have to sit back and see what happens.”
In a statement released last month, City of White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker says businesses on Marine Drive have financially suffered during the pandemic, and are struggling to pay rent and their employees.
“These are our neighbours, our friends, and we want to ensure that when the pandemic is over, our restaurants can welcome back all the visitors who love coming to White Rock,” he says.
On an information page for residents regarding the lane closure, White Rock Fire Rescue has planned responses in case of an emergency.
“The response will focus on staging fire apparatus to allow for some traffic flow by using all the available space,” it reads, adding White Rock RCMP will assist with necessary road closures.