Relief for commercial businesses impacted by Broadway Subway construction? A motion goes to Council June 16 (today)

Businesses along Broadway are bearing the brunt of subway construction.

The reconvened Council Committee meeting on Thursday, June 16th (3pm) will likely hear the motion on notice about assisting struggling businesses that have been affected by the subway construction. The motion on notice was submitted by Councillor Colleen Hardwick and it appears as Item: 13. Relief for Commercial Properties Impacted by the Broadway Subway Construction (Member Motion B.7). Full text of the motion is copied below. Link to PDF:

An open question is how did the construction reach the current stage without the City properly looking at ways to mitigate the economic impacts of the subway construction. Did the elected officials on Council, and TransLink, and provincial authorities seriously consider these impacts and were they properly articulated in consideration of the costs and benefits of the subway? Should businesses be forced to close because of an infrastructure project? We’ve taken a few photos to show the issues of access to certain retail sites below. It’s too late for a number of business that have already closed their doors. Anyone walking, driving, rolling, or busing along the construction zone can sense the scale of impacts on local shops and businesses. A petition entitled “Help Local Vancouver Businesses Survive the Broadway Subway Project” has nearly 2,000 signatures as of today. Patrons of stores along the way can talk to shop owners and staff and will quickly discover that business has plummeted. Staffing is being reduced. Business hours are being curtailed. There are nearly four years to go, as the current schedule (link) is for the subway to open in late 2025, though major work on some sections should end earlier. Certainly these businesses deserve support. But who should pay for it and what will it cost? Did former Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver seriously consider these impacts when they aggressively promoted the Broadway Subway when they were in power til 2018?

It’s a little too late for some businesses:

MOTION

At the Council meeting on June 7, 2022, Council referred the following motion to the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services meeting on June 8, 2022, in order to hear from speakers, followed by debate and decision.

MOVED by Councillor Hardwick WHEREAS

  1. Construction of the Broadway Subway has disrupted the business of merchants and commercial operators along the Broadway Corridor. The loss of business has had a profound impact on the livelihoods of both property owners and renters of commercial space along the Broadway Corridor;
  2. Merchants located adjacent to “cut and cover [wsp.com]” sites are more severely impacted than other areas along the Broadway Corridor. Cut and cover sections of construction restrict pedestrian, vehicle and bus access to merchants. Visibility of businesses in cut and cover sections is severely limited and significantly impacted;
  3. Properties along the Broadway corridor are not provided with the same level of access for customers, suppliers and deliveries. Mitigation measures have not been effective at offsetting business losses;
  4. The Broadway Subway is a “design and build [dbia.org]” project, thus businesses receive information and are consulted with only a week or two before changes are implemented. This uncertainty adds additional pressure to adjacent businesses operations; and
  5. Other Canadian cities have addressed similar challenges associated with large transportation infrastructure projects. For example, the City of Montreal, QC launched a financial assistance program [montreal.ca] aimed at reducing the impact of work sites for establishments located in areas affected by major construction. The program is geared towards establishments in an area affected by major construction. Its aim is to:
    • Mitigate the financial impacts on merchants affected by work sites.
    • Help merchants stay in business during a major infrastructure construction period.
    • Support the dynamism and commercial vitality of commercial streets under construction.THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct Staff to explore options on ways to provide relief to commercial properties affected in the “cut and cover” locations along the Broadway Subway corridor, including relaxation of business property taxes, and developing a program similar to that of the City of Montreal’s Financial assistance program for businesses affected by major construction [montreal.ca].

13. Relief for Commercial Properties Impacted by the Broadway Subway Construction (Member’s Motion B.7)

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