A decision to reduce time limits on three Five Corners parking stalls to one hour will be reviewed, White Rock city councillors decided Monday.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the move, following a delegation by business owner Rod LeBlanc, who said the change confuses customers and was made both without proper consultation and against the wishes of the majority of area merchants.
“What we’re dealing with here is somewhat of a problem,” LeBlanc said, citing a survey that showed 16 of 18 Five Corners merchants did not support the change. “It’s become a bit of an issue among all of the businesses, and we will be collecting affidavits.”
The change, which took effect about four months ago, was made in response to concerns from area merchants who complained of a need for more regular turnover. It was to make business viable for all, Mayor Catherine Ferguson told Peace Arch News in February.
Coun. Al Campbell told the delegation he has heard from one business owner who praised the increased restriction, however LeBlanc, who owns the Lifelong Health clinic, said it is doing more harm than good for most businesses.
If the city doesn’t address it, “we will have to go into more aggressive ways,” LeBlanc said.
In discussing the issue, councillors had mixed feelings on whether the restrictions should revert back to all two-hour parking, as LeBlanc requested. Coun. Doug McLean was also concerned to learn the initial change was made by a single staff member, without any consultation with merchants.
Raised by LeBlanc, the point was confirmed by city manager Peggy Clark, who explained a business owner had gone directly to a staff member who had made changes in the past. Clark put a stop to it “the minute I became aware,” she said.
“They made the change, and I said, ‘No, they can’t do it this way’,” she said.
At that time, the city’s parking manager spoke to nine business owners on the matter, Clark said. Of those, six were opposed to the one-hour restriction, she noted.
“On that basis, we looked to work toward a compromise.”
The change was applied to three of 14 parking stalls located in front of the 15202-15228 Pacific Ave. complex, on the road’s south side.
Campbell described the compromise as “the right thing to do, the less-selfish thing to do.”
“The three out of the nine, they were finding it impossible (to do business),” he said.
Coun. Lynne Sinclair said she is concerned the promise of a review might lead LeBlanc and other like-minded merchants to believe the change will definitely be reverted.
“I’m a little troubled with the request to have staff reconsider,” she said. “It’s only three spots. I don’t want to mislead anyone.”
Council unanimously supported a motion for staff to review the decision. A report to council is expected in two week.
The tight timeline does not permit consultation with the merchants, Clark noted.