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White Rock spa owner leaving parking woes behind
A longtime White Rock businessowner fed up with construction that has all-but-wiped out parking in front of her George Street spa is relocating to Ocean Park.
Amy Walmsley, who has operated Shibui Skin Care at 1440 George St. since 1989, said she has tried for the past year to get city officials to act on her concerns – which include cement trucks taking over the street for hours on end – and crack down on violators, to no avail.
“I’ve taken hundreds of names down to city hall of clients who have complained,” Walmsley said Tuesday.
But parking officials who investigate always tell her there is no one exceeding the two-hour parking limit, she said.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin said he’s not surprised to hear that the construction is causing disruption, but said the city has made “a pretty strong effort” to ensure workers aren’t taking street parking.
Many employees use the vacant lot adjacent to the Coast Capital Playhouse, at the corner of Johnston Road and Russell Avenue, he said.
“Short of having a guy permanently posted (on George Street) to watch and then question everybody who leaves their car there… it’s just not practical,” he said.
Baldwin described Walmsley’s decision to take her business out of White Rock as “really too bad.”
“I can understand the short-term pain, but there’s long-term gain there,” he said.
“She would have a potential couple hundred customers right at her doorstep if she were able to wait it out. Ultimately, I think that’ll be a really good spot.”
Work on and around the Avra tower is nearing completion, he noted; and construction of the Soltaire project, on Thrift between Johnston and George, is underway.
“It’ll be about 18 months before anything settles down, but at the end of the day, in 18 months’ time, there’ll be an awful lot of customers.”
Walmsley, who lives just around the corner from her business’s current location, estimates she’s lost about 30 per cent of her business already, and can’t afford to lose more.
“I made the decision (to leave) six months ago. I knew I couldn’t carry on paying the rent with what was going on.
“We couldn’t let it happen anymore. I cashed in all my RRSPs to do this… in Ocean Park.”
She expects that many of her customers will also choose to do other shopping in Ocean Park on the days they have spa appointments; taking even more business out of White Rock.
At least one other George Street business confirmed parking concerns are heard regularly.
At the George Street Family Practice, patients routinely have to park on neighbouring streets, said one staffer.
“It’s kind of a regular complaint,” said one woman, who asked not to be named. “People are late for their appointments, people can’t find parking.
“It just looks like it’s all being taken up by construction.”
Patients Wednesday morning reported having to park nearly two blocks away, by North Bluff Road, she said.