At the Oxygen Yoga and Fitness on Bellevue Avenue, the intuitive art of balancing mind with the body comes with extra effort for something far drearier occupies the mind space of both patrons and teachers: The 2-hour parking limit. Peace of mind is certainly elusive for owner Amarjeet Mann as she finds herself looking for the next parking spot for her teachers and patrons so they don’t have to run out of classes to move their vehicle.
She pays $200 a month for an underground parking spot but says she can’t afford to pay more for another parking spot. She often gives her underground parking spot to her teachers so they don’t have to run out of their class to move their car. There are days when you can find her moving from one spot to another so she doesn’t get ticketed by bylaw, who can be quite overzealous when it comes to handing out fines.
“I play around moving my car and my customers often tell me we couldn’t find parking and we had to leave. Parking is a huge issue for me and other businesses here,” she says.
The worst is yet to come, she fears. As part of its Ambleside Waterfront Plan, the district of West Vancouver plans to close Argyle Avenue to vehicles and open the street to pedestrian and bicyclists to crease a seamless east-west Spirit Trail connection. In fact, as part of a pilot project, the district has already closed Argyle to vehicles between 13th and 14th streets.
When Argyle finally becomes part of a spirit trail, as many as 100 parking spots may vanish into thin air. The district would have achieved a spirit trail connection between Ambleside, Park Royal and Dundarave, but not without hurting businesses like Oxygen Yoga and Fitness. An incredulous Mann wonders what exactly the local politicians are thinking.
“My customers are not going to come as far as Bellevue without a car. I don’t know what the councillors are thinking. Do they think people who live in Horseshoe Bay and British properties are going to bike or walk to do their yoga here?” she wonders.
These are exactly the worrisome questions that bother Lin Rockwell, the owner of women’s clothing on Bellevue. Rockwell owns Phoenix on Bellevue and Romantique, a high end lingerie store for women. Both are destination stores which means most women who come to the either of the stores have planned a trip there.
If they don’t find parking, they may not return next time. Sales are down and lack of parking is a big reason for it, says Rockwell. “It’s affecting sales big time”.
Parking is one of the biggest issues we face here, customers are continually complaining and no one takes us seriously. There was a thriving little business community here when I first moved in and a number of businesses have closed down, which affects all of us because it makes this area less of a shopping destination,” she says.
As bad as the parking situation is, the eventual closure of Argyle Street will make a bad situation worse, she says.
West Vancouver is a hilly area with an older population and it’s hard to imagine people walking down here for shopping, she adds. “We need our customers to drive down here and find sufficient parking or there won’t be any independent retail stores. It’s hard enough to keep retail stores and closing Argyle would be the final nail in our coffin,” she says.
David Jones may just have prevented that nail from being hammered into that coffin—at least for now. Jones owns the Jones and Company Custom Framing on Bellevue Avenue. When he got whiff of district plans to take away parking spots from Argyle Street, he rallied the ADBIA, started a petition and convinced his fellow merchants to sign the petition to get the council to put the brakes on their plan to remove parking until more parking can be provided. He gathered 4,000 signatures and spoke before the council, who agreed to temporarily stop the plan although Jones wants them to scrap the plan and look for areas to create additional parking.
“The district doesn’t seem to be listening to business owners in the area. They don’t need to take away parking from Argyle street to make this place a world class destination. In fact, what we need is additional parking in the form of a parkade,” he says. Jones says the district may have put the plans on hold, but it’s not an idea they have given up on. Officials, he said, are often vague and evasive when asked about the plans for Argyle Street.
Chuck Walker, a prominent businessman who owns a large commercial property on Bellevue, also decried the council’s lack of vision. “We have been pounding the city council but staff are not electable and council likes bikes. This is a council that can’t be bothered with what happens to local businesses,” he said.
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