Granville Island businesses shocked by return of paid parking

Traders say the re-establishment of paid parking on Granville Island is unfair after the business losses they have already suffered during the pandemic.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which manages Granville Island, made parking free last March to support businesses, artists, creators and their clients.

In early April 2021, CMHC announced that paid parking would return as of May 1.

One of the area owners has started a petition calling for free parking to return until business returns to normal on Granville Island.

“With the exception of the greengrocers, most people find it difficult to survive,” David McCann told CBC radio. On the coast journalist Margaret Gallagher. “Half of my desks are empty because people either work for their homes or they just cut staff to the point that they were hanging on just to see if this pandemic is ever going to end.

Cars often end up in traffic jams on Vancouver’s Granville Island. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Of its 15 retail tenants, McCann says only two make more than 50 percent of their usual sales and most are closer to 30 percent.

“I have a 225 to 250 seat restaurant. Right now they have about 28 seats to accommodate people. I don’t know if they’ll be staying any longer.”

The general manager of CMHC says paid parking has been reinstated to free up space for customers.

“When we looked at the numbers, we found that a lot of people who came to park for free weren’t really spending time on Granville Island,” Lancaster said. “They weren’t spending money. They weren’t supporting local businesses. They weren’t supporting artists or artisans.”

He adds that a significant amount of parking spaces on Granville Island are occupied by staff working there, reducing the number of spaces available for paying customers.

But McCann believes it is unfair to place this burden on staff and businesses that still face reduced sales, especially when CMHC received $ 16.7 million in federal assistance last year and that ‘it is expected to receive $ 21.7 million in the next federal budget.

“[That’s] more than the annual funding they get from the whole island, from parking, from rents, from the movie industry when they come here and use spaces, ”McCann said.

“You ask people who are already having difficulty, who already have reduced hours, you ask them to pay for a problem that they did not create and you have all this government money.

Lancaster says that with federal assistance received by Granville Island over the past fiscal year, CMHC was able to offer rent reductions of 75 to 100 percent to eligible tenants.

“The problem is that the money is not a huge bag of money for Granville Island to spend the way we want,” he also said. “The income we get on the island is the island’s only survival.”

He argues that parking fees for Granville Island, which is technically a peninsula, will be reduced from pre-pandemic levels, with the weekday rate set at $ 1 an hour and the weekend rate at 2. $ per hour. Daily passes will also be available for $ 7 on weekdays and $ 14 on weekends and holidays.