The north lane of White Rock’s Marine Drive will be closed to traffic as a result of a decision by council, aimed at providing more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Aaron Hinks photo)

The north lane of White Rock’s Marine Drive will be closed to traffic as a result of a decision by council, aimed at providing more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock council votes to make Marine Drive one-way route

North lane of waterfront drive to be closed to traffic, allowing for expanded restaurant patios

White Rock council has voted to close the north lane of Marine Drive until the end of September, making the main waterfront route a temporary east-bound one-way.

The vote was a 6-1 split decision in council’s Monday (May 10) regular online meeting.

Coun. Scott Kristjanson’s motion, seconded by Coun. Helen Fathers, asked staff to work with the Fire Department, White Rock RCMP and the White Rock BIA to “make this happen” while mitigating risks of the measure.

The stretch of Marine Drive to be closed will be from Vidal Street on west beach to Maple Street on east beach.

The move, responding to a request from the White Rock BIA, is aimed at allowing waterfront restaurants more table space to offset a severe and continuing threat to the survival of the businesses as a result of provincial health orders banning inside dining.

Sole vote against came from Coun. David Chesney, who cited continuing concerns about emergency vehicles not being able to access the area, delaying response times.

“There are too many negatives against this,” he warned. “We’re operating on conjecture.”

READ ALSO: Challenges stall one-way proposal for White Rock’s Marine Drive

READ ALSO: White Rock City council, BIA to further mull Marine Drive one-way

Coun. Anthony Manning echoed Fathers’ statement that she had changed her mind about the proposal, given concerns about the survival of Marine Drive restaurants, and assurances that safety and other challenges can be mitigated.

“I still am concerned about access for first responders,” Manning said. “But I’m also concerned about the knock-on effects from a string of failed businesses.”

Coun. Christopher Trevelyan also commented the vote was “a tough call,” terming it a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

Although council had originally considered using the north lane as a pedestrian walkway, allowing restaurants to expand patio business onto the sidewalk, council decided Monday to endorse the BIA suggestion that the sidewalk would continue to be used by pedestrian traffic, allowing restaurants to use the north lane for extra table space instead.

Staff have been instructed to install temporary water-filled barriers – which engineering and municipal operations director Jim Gordon said would take around $50,000 to set up and around $40,000 per month to maintain – to close off the north lane as soon as possible.

Gordon told council that west-bound traffic – which can reach as high as 250 vehicles an hour in peak times – would be diverted down Columbia Avenue and Victoria Avenue, although he said he has concerns about pedestrian safety on Victoria Avenue.

“It’s quite narrow,” he said. “It’s not the kind of street you want to send a lot of traffic down.”

In the area of the hump, Marine Drive would have two lanes travelling east, with another lane on the north side of the road to allow for for resident parking, Gordon said.

Fire Chief Ed Wolfe said two lanes being open on the hump is one positive aspect of the plan, giving more room for larger emergency vehicles to maneuver, adding the current plan was probably the best that could be done under the circumstances.

“It doesn’t alleviate risk,” he noted. “It depends on circumstances and situations. Overall, council will have to make that decision on what level of risk is acceptable to them.”

He added that in looking at past numbers on responses to emergencies in the proposed closure area, from May to September, showed an average of 36 per year in that period, ranging from alarms and medical calls to structural fires.

White Rock RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls said two lanes east-bound on the hump did raise some concerns about that stretch of Marine Drive turning into a late night ‘drag strip,’ but said he had no other major concerns about the plan from a policing standpoint.

The decision followed a delegation from BIA executive director Alex Nixon and Primo’s Mexican Grill manager and BIA vice-chair Samantha McQuade.

“An extra, even, five seats per restaurant would essentially cover their monthly rent,” Nixon said.

“When the public health order comes up for review, it certainly won’t allow 100 per cent indoor dining. It might be 50 or 25 per cent, although, frankly, I would be surprised (if it would be that much), given the way transmission works indoors. Businesses need to maximize their revenues now, before winter. Every restaurant is dealing with hours long waiting lists.”

Calling the one lane closure “the only option that we’ve found that can effectively expand seating for the businesses,” Nixon said he wished there was another one.

“I know how challenging it is to close down streets, particularly Marine Drive. I recognize it will cause aggravation and it will cost money. We’re looking at some short-term pain…to ensure long-term gain.”

McQuade echoed Nixon’s appreciation of the amount of work council and staff had done in studying the issue and discussing possibilities with the BIA.

“We’ve tried to come at this from every other possible angle, to try to find anything that would be less-intrusive to the city, as a way to help the businesses without putting in so much work and making such a difficult situation,” she said, noting that she believes that providing access for emergency vehicles and access for deliveries can be managed and that inconvenience to residents can be mitigated, with a proper traffic plan.

She also said that even if dining-in restrictions are lifted within two weeks it will still take restaurants a long time to regain lost ground, adding that keeping the closure until September would give the businesses a chance to recoup some of their losses.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White RockCoronavirus

Just Posted

Hundreds gathered at Surrey’s Holland Park Friday (June 11) in memory of the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on Sunday (June 6). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Educating public ‘exhausting,’ says White Rock Muslim Association past president

Asad Syed says public needs to be more vocal in their condemnation

The City of White Rock turns 63 today. (file photo)
City of White Rock 2020 annual report available for review

Report to be discussed at June 28 council meeting

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read