Vancouver’s struggling Granville Island gets $22M federal cash injection

Click to play video: 'Vancouver tourist site Granville Island gets $22M lifeline from federal government' Vancouver tourist site Granville Island gets $22M lifeline from federal government
WATCH: Granville Island merchants, who have struggled through the pandemic, are getting another lifeline from the federal government. Some businesses were forced to close over the past year while others are just hanging on, but as Ted Chernecki reports, this latest cash infusion will help keep the Island alive through the summer – Apr 29, 2021

One of Vancouver’s most iconic tourist destinations is getting a cash injection from the federal government that local businesses hope will be a lifeline to keep them afloat.

Granville Island has seen a dramatic drop in visitors over the past year.

In that same time, several businesses have closed and other merchants told Global News they were barely holding on.

Read more: Holidaymakers juggle disappointment, understanding as B.C. travel restrictions kick in

“Not everyone was able to survive, we did lose three tenants and they made the decision their lease was up, and they decided not to continue on,” Christine Amantea, manager of the Kids Market, told Global News.

“It was a terrible stressor for all the businesses here, and we got together and we talked about it and we all agreed most of us would not renew our leases, we could go month to month and close if we didn’t get that kind of help,” Donna Dobo, who runs Just Imagine Fun Clothing, added.

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Ottawa provided $16 million in rent subsidies in 2020, and the 2021 budget has earmarked another $22 million for the federally-owned property.

Click to play video: 'Granville Island suffers from lack of tourism' Granville Island suffers from lack of tourism
Granville Island suffers from lack of tourism – Jun 10, 2020

That money will go to ensuring rent subsidies continue, along with covering much-needed infrastructure upgrades to the island usually paid for by merchants.

Read more: B.C. budget earmarks $120M to help tourism sector recover

“It’s really significant to my business because if these funds are dedicated to keeping the island open to all, not just the wealthy, then we will see a continuation of business but without those funds I don’t know how it would make it,” Dobo said.

While help in one form is on the way in, another initiative meant to support businesses is on the way out.

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Free parking, which was implemented last year to try and draw visitors, is being phased out on Saturday.

The island’s management says people were coming to the area purely to park, without visiting Granville Island merchants.

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