Frank Bucholtz

AND FRANKLY: Creating Marine Drive one-way a bold move by White Rock council

Detours, lane closure, will present challenges, but businesses need help to survive

White Rock council has taken a bold, almost radical, move in closing the westbound lane of Marine Drive for the summer months.

The move is being taken primarily to try to save local businesses (mostly restaurants) along Marine Drive. They are in even more peril than most restaurant and food service businesses in the province, because of the highly-seasonal nature of their business. Closure of the traffic lane will allow businesses to set up outdoor patio dining on a portion of the roadway.

The closure is to stay in effect until the end of September.

Last summer was difficult, and this year’s warm weather has already arrived – with in-person dining prohibited, due to health regulations.

While the regulations are scheduled to expire after the long weekend, it is quite likely they will be extended for at least a couple more weeks, given that COVID-19 case numbers are still high. Even if the restrictions end next week, it is almost certain that capacity inside restaurants will be quite limited, and many White Rock restaurants are quite small.

However, the lane closure comes with a significant number of challenges. The one that seems to have garnered the most attention from the public is the effect on emergency services.

Many people are concerned that police, fire and ambulance services will have difficulty making it to emergency calls, particularly at a busy time. Fire chief Ed Wolfe says that, on average, his department responds to about 36 emergency calls along Marine Drive each summer season.

The other major concern that has been raised is about detouring traffic. While there were suggestions that westbound traffic can use Victoria or Columbia Avenues, that is problematic. Both are residential streets and Victoria in particular is quite narrow. The effect on transit services along Marine Drive is also a problem.

The motion for the closure was passed 6-1, with only Coun. Dave Chesney opposed. His primary concern was the challenges in providing emergency services, and several other councillors also expressed concern about that topic.

It was a challenging decision, but council is to be commended for its willingness to tackle a thorny issue. Most politicians prefer to run away or endlessly delay such decisions.

The current edition of White Rock council is not afraid to make controversial decisions, and as Coun. Scott Kristjanson said on another hot topic, limiting high-rises in the town centre area, “They (the voters) can choose not to re-elect this council, and elect some other council that believes in higher buildings.”

Here’s hoping that the closure will not create the problems that some are fearing, and that restaurants and other service businesses along Marine Drive will survive the summer months. White Rock’s waterfront is such a unique place, and is so important to this region, that its businesses deserve a fighting chance.

Surrey council has made a few moves to assist restaurants, mainly by making it less expensive and bureaucratic to set up outdoor dining, but those moves are mild in comparison with what White Rock is proposing to do. In Surrey’s case, restaurants are scattered all over the city and very few face the unique challenges that White Rock businesses do.

Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for Peace Arch News and at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca

City of White RockColumnCoronavirusTraffic

Just Posted

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Locke seeks breakdown on what Surreyites get for taxes paid to Metro Vancouver

Surrey councillor aims to present motion to council tonight (Monday, June 14) asking city staff to do a cost/benefit analysis

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
SURREY NOW & THEN: Little Theatre’s 59-year history ends with big plans for move to Langley

A former church, the theatre building/property has sold for close to $900,000

The City of White Rock wants input from residents and businesses on parking practices and regulations in the city. (File photo)
Input sought for White Rock parking survey(double-click to edit)

City to develop new strategy based on data and best practices

Surrey council chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council to consider ‘public engagement’ strategies tonight

Council asked to endorse ‘Public Engagement Strategy and Toolkit,’ and a ‘Big Vision, Bold Moves’ transportation public engagement plan

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council to consider $7.3 million contract for street paving projects tonight

A city staff report recommends Lafarge Canada Inc. be awarded $7,326,667.95 for 15 road projects in North Surrey and one in South Surrey

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read