Businesses in North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village are calling a district plan to revitalize the area during COVID-19 worthwhile, but poorly executed.
The District of North Vancouver has put forward a proposal for a pedestrian-only zone centred on Highland Boulevard, allowing businesses to expand outdoors to help with physical distancing.
The plan would also see the removal of 29 parking spaces.
Merchants in the area say the district sprang the plan on them with no consultation.
“It caught everybody by surprise,” said Robin Delaney of Delaney’s Coffee.
“There are some elements of the proposal that would excite us. But there’s different kinds of merchants, and some will be disadvantaged greatly and some will be advantaged.”
Delaney said the village’s physiotherapist, which works heavily with people with mobility issues, would lose its parking under the proposal.
He added that the area has seen significant construction in recent years followed by the COVID-19 crisis, and at this point every parking spot counts in trying to attract people to the area.
It’s a concern shared by Capilano Barbers owner Brenda Coker.
“Without parking you don’t have customers, without customers you don’t have a business,” she said.
“There’s a lot of elderly people here that need to be able to park close to where they’re going.”
Coker said the plan also came as a surprise to her, and that neighbouring businesses told her they hadn’t been consulted either.
In a statement, the District of North Vancouver said it’s “still talking” to businesses in the shopping district “to discuss ways to provide support that works for them.”
The district said the Edgemont proposal is based on a pilot project currently operating in Deep Cove, that it says has earned support from residents and local businesses.
Delaney said he, too, could be supportive — but that the plan will need to be reworked before it will be a good fit for Edgemont.
“The concept is very good, and it is workable,” he said.
“But the document that the merchants have seen is completely unmanageable and it has to be refined.”