White Rock’s Marine Drive will return to being a two-way street on Aug. 12.
In a news release Monday afternoon, the city announced that the two-month-long temporary closure will end now that the province is in Phase 3 of its Restart Plan, “which allows restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs to operate at 100 per cent capacity.”
Last week, council voted 4-3 to revert the street back to two-way traffic in August. At the same time, White Rock’s acting chief administrative officer Jim Gordon said it couldn’t happen until Aug. 3 at the earliest, due to the availability of contractors to remove the barriers.
Removal of the barriers will begin on the evening of Aug. 11, the city said, and two-way traffic will resume the next morning.
The westbound lane of Marine Drive – from Maple Street to Vidal Street – closed on June 7 in an effort to give waterfront restaurants and bars the ability to expand their outdoor patio space in light of COVID-19 health restrictions. However, in late May, council amended the plan – which was originally set to last the entire summer – to allow the lane closure only until provincial health authorities allowed full-capacity indoor dining, which happened July 1.
In recent weeks, the city has canvassed businesses along White Rock Beach – both the east and west sides – and received mixed reactions, with some business owners complaining of a lack of foot traffic while others deeming the project a success.
As well, some waterfront restaurateurs have complained that an earlier-than-expected return to two-way traffic will hurt them financially, considering the costs incurred to build out larger patios.
Uli’s Restaurant owner Tyson Blume, who built a deck in front of his restaurant with tables and dividers, told Peace Arch News in June that he spent $10,000 on the temporary patio on the understanding that he would be able to keep it open until the end of September.