Construction has started on a new stretch of separated bike lanes through Calgary’s oldest working commercial strip in the Beltline, but some business owners say they weren’t consulted and the removal of parking will hurt their bottom line.
Epiphanie Chocolate on 11 Street S.W. is a small business that has thrived during the pandemic, but now, the shop’s owners are worried business may go from sweet to sour because they’re losing parking spots.
“We are a really good small business in this heritage strip, and we stand to lose business because people coming down here not being able to find a place to park,” said Epiphanie Chocolate owner John Fleck.
“We really need parking on 11th Street for our businesses, for the service vehicles, and we also need parking for those who deliver to this area.”
The city is constructing new separated wheeling lanes and traffic calming curb extensions on 11 Street, but that means parking will be sacrificed on one side of the street.
According to the city, the goal is to improve network connections and provide more options for different modes of travel like bikes and scooters.
The city of Calgary website states: “We are planning for improvements to 11 Street S.W., from 12 Avenue to Cameron Avenue S.W., by implementing changes such as traffic calming to reduce vehicle speeds, improving accessibility and completing missing links for shared cycling and scooting lanes.”
Kevin Schlauch, director of transportation with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, says over two-thirds of residents and businesses who participated in the city’s engagement process were in favour of having separated lanes.
“The area has been in bad need of traffic calming for a long time. The city did a lot of engagement with this,” said Schlauch.
“This is an instance where they engaged citizens and businesses. There was a very clear desire for this type of infrastructure, for this type of project, and the city listened.”
The owner of Peaseblossoms Flowers said the project was a predetermined plan.
“This mobility project was introduced to us via postcard last September. There’s been no consultation process,” said Marika Styba.
Styba said she’s worried about losing potential customers who can’t find a place to park.
“Most of us have had our businesses here for decades and feel that as stakeholders and residents, we have a really good understanding and good insight as to how the street works, and none of those things were taken into consideration,” Styba said.
The city said public engagement for 11 Street S.W. community mobility improvements was conducted in August 2020 and stakeholder feedback was incorporated.
“I’m not sure who they consulted but it sure wasn’t us,” Fleck said.
A petition opposed to the project has now started.