Saturday, March 2, 2024

Gastown companies cautious as metropolis closes Water Road to visitors

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Companies in Gastown are involved town’s plan to close down Water Road subsequent month in preparation for a pedestrian-only summer time experiment might backfire.

On Wednesday, council permitted the plan to start highway enhancements alongside Water Road from Maple Tree Sq. to Cambie Road. Maple Tree Sq. is the place Water, Carrall, Alexander and Powell streets meet.

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Work is predicted to start in March, after which that part of Water Road can be principally closed to visitors till the top of August as a pilot venture.

“Our No. 1 concern is the impression on enterprise,” mentioned Gastown Enterprise Enchancment Affiliation govt director Walley Wargolet.

“(Town is) utilizing our companies as a check bucket. I’m fearful about that.”

Based on Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, the pilot venture is a part of town’s efforts to make Gastown “a extra vibrant, clear, secure and people-friendly vacation spot for everybody.”

Preparation works will embody repaving a big part of Water Road with bricks.

Through the pedestrian zone pilot, sections of Water Road can be closed to autos to permit for public seating, neighborhood activations, expanded patios, merchandise shows, artwork installations, particular occasions and biking.

“Remodeling Water Road into an activated pedestrian zone this summer time presents an thrilling alternative to showcase the colourful companies and points of interest that Gastown has to supply,” Sim mentioned.

Town has put aside $35 million to enhance Gastown, with $10 million of that money already spent.

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Wargolet mentioned avenue dysfunction points alongside Water Road have improved 100 per cent on account of the enhancements to date.

“The final 12 months has been an actual turnaround,” he mentioned. “The vibrancy on the road has been unbelievable.”

Nevertheless, Wargolet mentioned earlier experiments with closing buying districts to visitors in Montreal and San Diego failed, with retail companies struggling.

“The one query we are able to’t get a solution on is, what are you making an attempt to resolve right here?” he mentioned.

“What are you making an attempt to repair? We began down this path in want of infrastructure and sustaining the neighbourhood after which this concept (pedestrian-only) got here out. Making a very nice area the place folks need to hang around could possibly be superior. But when it has a detrimental impression on enterprise, then this can be a failed experiment and solely time will inform us that.”

Based on town, the long-term plan for pedestrianizing Water Road can be primarily based on suggestions from impacted teams. The result of the pilot can be reported to council in fall of 2024.

Advisable from Editorial

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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