Closure of 50th Street in the downtown area all day tomorrow (Friday) prompted an angry response from one business owner at Monday’s council meeting.
The street is being closed from 9 a.m. to allow for the Farmers’ Market which will run from 4-7:30 p.m. in conjunction with Jazz At The Lake festivities.
Sheree Davies of Bayview Café, which is located in Cobb’s Block Central, blasted the town during council’s open microphone session.
“You’re completely denying us access to our business,” she said.
Closure of the street to vehicle traffic will affect her business which she said is a destination which people drive to.
She complained that in the previous two years, “this doesn’t work for us yet it’s going on a third year”.
“People who go to the market already go to the market, they’re not going to come to my place when vendors are blocking access.”
Another complaint was that she received one week’s notice of the street closure and there was no consultation.
“Why are you denying me to run my business when you’re allowing someone else to run their business. We can’t go another year with this,” Davies said.
“To close off the street for the entire day is ludicrous.”
Later in their agenda, councillors heard from Vicki Kurz, the town’s economic development officer.
She indicated when the application came in this year it was approved by staff as there were no complaints on file from previous years.
“This is typically done in co-operation with the chamber of commerce, but they don’t have a manager at this time,” Kurz said.
Once the town’s Beach Ambassadors hand delivered the notices last Friday, she received complaints from three of the 17 affected businesses that their storefront or entranceway would be blocked. The market organizer has been very accommodating in changing the layout to solve their concerns, Kurz indicated.
Two of the four businesses that complained said ‘no, don’t move the market, we wish the street wasn’t closed so long’.
Several of the councillors voiced concern about the length of the closure and asked staff to assist if the time could be reduced.
“I’m so in favour of having this down there,” said Councillor Dale Plante. “It’s sad two or three people can ruin it for everyone.” But he added he didn’t agree with the amount of time the street would be closed.
“Let’s not inconvenience all the businesses that aren’t benefitting from the Farmers’ Market,” he said, noting the optometrist and chiropractor.
Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer, said this wasn’t something the Farmers’ Market operator saw as a business opportunity. They did it reluctantly. It was something they were asked to take on to add more vibrancy to the downtown area.
Councillor Graham Parsons noted the town is currently working on plans to redesign 50th Street with a more festive attitude.
“Crowds are much bigger than they get at the arena,” added Councillor Matt Prete. “The only issue is the length of time of the road closure.” He suggested the Beach Ambassadors help so the road doesn’t have to be shut as long.
Councillor Chris Lust said, “it should be the businesses in that area that should be involved in these types of things. The business community, I struggle with them, they want a whole lot but are not contributing a whole lot.”
At the end of the discussion, councillors left the matter with staff to see if there is a solution that could reduce the time the road is closed tomorrow.