The relocation of a bus layover from North Bluff Road to the 1500-block of Foster Street has angered some White Rock businesses who have lost parking spaces as a result.
Six parking stalls have been affected by the move, and Norma Ann Eaton – whose hair salon is across the street from the new layover – said the loss has a tremendous impact on the small businesses that depend on them.
“We’re all relying on these parking stalls, which weren’t enough to begin with,” Eaton said, noting she pays the same amount of taxes as businesses that have parking spaces. “That’s what we pay for, is the privilege of having parking.”
The relocation is temporary while North Bluff undergoes road improvements, according to the City of White Rock’s director of engineering.
The construction period is two months, Rob Thompson said, and the city is in discussions with the City of Surrey about a new, permanent location for the layover.
In the meantime, a space had to be allocated for up to three buses at a time to break at the end of their run, before going on to pick up passengers on 152 Street.
“I worked with the bus company to find a layover somewhere in White Rock and we went all along North Bluff, down George, along Thrift, along Russell and along Foster, and also on Martin,” Thompson said.
“This is the only location that would work from a safety and operational perspective for the bus company. It’s not like we picked this place arbitrarily.”
Thompson noted there continues to be parking stalls on the east side of Foster, and on the west side of the street, just to the north and south of the layover.
The city has also suggested customers park in Miramar Tower, but Eaton said the distance is burdensome for her and neighbouring businesses’ clients, most of whom are elderly.
Eaton, as well as denturist Peter Hodson and massage therapist Susan Tucker, expressed confusion over the city’s decision to put the layover across from their businesses, which is the only block on Foster that doesn’t have parking on both sides of the street.
What is even more frustrating, Eaton said, is there weren’t any buses using the layover last week, days after no-parking signs were put up.
“You slap us in the face and put that up before any buses come? There’s no respect given to our businesses.”
Thompson said the signs went up Aug. 2 “to get things ready.”
“We have to get people accustomed to those spaces being reserved for the bus layover,” he said, noting buses would start using it Aug. 8, which is the initiation date for the construction work on North Bluff.
Anyone concerned by the changes can speak to him directly, Thompson added.
Eaton said she took her concerns to the White Rock Business Improvement Association, to no avail.
“We have a mandatory business association that’s done absolutely nothing to stop it.”
The BIA did not return calls by Peace Arch News’ press deadline.
Eaton said she isn’t optimistic a meeting with Thompson would improve the situation, as any changes would have to be approved by council, which doesn’t meet again until mid-September.
The city should be working with small businesses to find solutions to problems – such as removing an unnecessary boulevard outside her salon to make room for parking, Eaton said.
As it is, Eaton said she is struggling to compete with Surrey businesses.
“We have to pay double the taxes and belong to a mandatory association; Surrey, half a block away, doesn’t have to pay any of that, and they’re not getting any of their parking taken away,” she said. “You’re driving the small businessmen right out of White Rock, into Surrey.
“We all love the name White Rock but we pay dearly for it.”