Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
That was how one White Rock councillor described the city’s decision to temporarily convert Marine Drive into a one-way street, helping local restaurants expand their seating capacity as a countermeasure to indoor-dining restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business owners are happy and some got right to work setting up Monday morning, once the barriers were in place. On the other hand, residents of normally quiet Victoria Avenue, the recipients of diverted west-bound traffic, are less than thrilled.
On PAN’s website and Facebook page, some commenters have vowed to steer clear of potential traffic chaos, while others have lauded the move as the very thing that will draw them down to the waterfront.
It’s worth noting that council rejected the one-way proposal when originally suggested. It was only after impassioned pleas from BIA executive director Alex Nixon, representing the restaurants, that they changed their minds.
In this situation, council is caught between struggling businesses, unhappy residents and staff who have made no secret of their concerns about the safety and manageability of the measure.
In greenlighting the one-way, council also endorsed a motion that it last only until full capacity is allowed in restaurants once again.
If predictions of provincial health orders hold true, that could happen as soon as July 1. But council would be wise to keep the measure in place until September as originally planned – unless a pressing reason for change emerges.
As Nixon pointed out to them, the one-way is as much about helping restaurants catch up to business losses in past months as it is about providing compensations for currently-limited seating.
Council has made its decision and now it needs to stick with it.