In response to a series of news reports on the number of restaurant closures on Marine Drive, the White Rock Business Improvement Association and the White Rock/South Surrey Chamber of Commerce are jointly hosting an event Saturday to promote that the “Drive is Alive.”
“It’s just to remind and invite people back to Marine Drive again. We’ve had a number of setbacks with news articles being written about how Marine Drive is quote-unquote dead, and this is really to show that it’s not,” said BIA interim executive director Russ Davies.
The idea for the event came out of a waterfront merchant meeting last month, which was co-ordinated by the Waterfront Task Force, a joint venture between the BIA and the chamber.
“We wanted to do something immediately and there are some longer term and broader goals down the way. Last week we met with the property owners and the leasing folks that own property down on Marine Drive. We got their feedback too,” Davies noted.
Davies said the properly owners who attended last week’s meeting – approximately 20-25 – were keen on making sure all property owners/merchants were taking care of their building.
Peace Arch News previously reported that the cost of some waterfront leases may be a contributing factor to the number of failing restaurants on the strip.
The topic was discussed at the property owners meeting.
“That was great information for a lot of the property owners… A few of them said ‘yep, we’ve heard that and we’re trying to make our space as affordable as possible.”
“Of course, they end up with the property taxes, city taxes, things like that too. But they’re doing their part. There was a commitment around the table to keep an eye on those lease rates,” Davies said.
The family-friendly event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will also serve as an opportunity for the Waterfront Task Force to collect new ideas from the public.
The task force will have one of its directors at each of the vacant storefronts, where they will ask the public for input.
“What vision do they have for Marine Drive? What kind of stores would they like to see? Tell us exactly what they would like to see in this vacant restaurant or empty store,” Davies said.
“We can pass that on to the landlords and even, perhaps, find appropriate tenants who want to come in.”
How to improve the waterfront was also discussed at a meeting Wednesday of the city’s economic investment committee.
In discussing the draft OCP guidelines for the area, members suggested the city have renderings created to illustrate a desired theme; develop an incentive program to encourage landlords or leaseholders to undertake improvements that fit the theme; and that the city’s community amenities policy be amended to include that CAC funds can be used to support development of a year-round attraction.
On Saturday, the White Rock BIA will give the first 500 people, between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., one dollar back on their parking if they bring a ticket stub to the tourism booth.
The City of White Rock is hosting an Official Community Plan public engagement session at Memorial Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at the White Rock Community Centre from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The day’s event will include walking tours, free children’s train rides, bouncy houses, yoga, music and a hiring fair for merchants on the strip.
The BIA rented power washers and is giving them to merchants that want to clean their building.
The event will take place rain or shine. Environment Canada is predicting a 70 per cent chance of periods of rain.
“You can control a lot of stuff, but you can’t control the weather,” Davies said.