COLUMN: No reason White Rock can’t thrive year-round

Plenty of food for thought when it comes to finding solutions to Marine Drive restuarants' issues.

An in-depth article published last week in Peace Arch News on the challenges of operating a restaurant on Marine Drive in White Rock provokes thoughts on not just the business climate, but the future potential of the “city by the sea.”

Online comments about the article, including a number from restaurant owners, also provide excellent food for thought.

What is White Rock’s greatest asset? Its proximity to the ocean and longtime role as a regional destination for visitors in the warm-weather months.

How can this asset be used more effectively to keep businesses thriving? It starts with marketing and promotion, but as several restaurant owners point out, the parking issue must be addressed in a more decisive manner. All the marketing in the world won’t help if people who come, particularly for the first time, cannot find a place to leave their vehicles.

Why should there be so much attention paid to marketing, promotion and parking issues? It’s existential. The future of White Rock as a standalone city requires that it have a thriving business climate. If it is to become nothing more than a location for ocean-view homes, it will become just another neighbourhood and will eventually go back to being part of Surrey.

The parking issues needs some serious attention. Why would the city even think about taking out 10 parking stalls near Balsam Street to build a sidewalk? If the sidewalk is that important, an alternate supply of parking spots should have been part of the overall project.

Several people suggested parking be free in the winter.

It is already provided at half-price during those months, and there is no shortage of parking at that time of year. The city pays a large sum to Burlington Northern Santa Fe to lease most of the land used for parking, and it needs some kind of cash flow in the winter months to help pay those costs.

As restaurant owner Shafique Saleemi says, if you can afford to go to a restaurant, you can afford parking costs.

Parking issues must be sorted out before the city and its businesses can be effectively marketed. Right now, many of them shut down for extended periods in the winter months because of light traffic.

Business is definitely slower. But that’s when parking is most available – and there is no reason that people cannot be attracted to Marine Drive in the winter.

Personally, we as out-of-towners (who live 12 kilometres distant) have stayed at the Ocean Promenade Hotel on two occasions, both in the fall and winter. The stay was wonderful on both occasions, but it was difficult to find nearby places to eat because most of them were closed.

There need to be arrangements made so that employees can park farther from the beach in the summer and leave more parking spots for visitors. There needs to be a frequent shuttle service from parking areas on the hilltop in the summer months – one that is reliable and reasonable enough that it will steadily attract users.

After parking is improved, there needs to be a concerted effort to attract more visitors – particularly Americans, most of whom have no idea that such an attractive seaside town is so close to the border. Their dollars go a long way in White Rock these days, and they should be coming there in droves – winter and summer.

The BIA not contributing to a billboard directing American visitors to White Rock makes no sense.

Social-media campaigns directed at Americans in northwest Washington would also pay big dividends. The fall and winter months are a great time to first invite them to the area.

Concerted effort by business owners, the BIA and the city could make business conditions along Marine Drive much better. That would make White Rock itself more viable. Everyone involved would benefit.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News. frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/nightshiftministries.org)
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read