Amid Broadway construction troubles, Vancouver grocery store calls for more government support

A Vancouver market is calling for increased government support for businesses affected by the construction of the Broadway subway project.

On Sunday, Greens Market’s Sentheepan Senthivel said construction had kept customers away, with sales down around 40% in some weeks. Without any relief, he and his business partner will go into debt to keep the business open.

Senthivel launched a online petition asking for tax reductions from provincial and municipal governments to help stores get through the construction period.

“Without at least a break on property taxes, many small businesses may not survive, and we may be left with nothing but big box stores once the dust settles,” the petition reads.

A fence has cut off part of the sidewalk outside its storefront, and access to nearby Maple Street is restricted. Senthivel says there aren’t enough signs telling people how to get to nearby stores.

Construction project fencing cut off part of the sidewalk outside Greens Market on West Broadway. (Green Market)

“You can’t really get into the store very easily,” he said. “We’ve had many suppliers, customers just don’t want to deliver anymore, don’t want to come in at all,” he said.

The Broadway construction project will extend the SkyTrain line from VCC-Clark Station to Arbutus Street along Broadway. The project includes six metro stations. This transit route – one of the busiest in the city – is currently served by the 99 B-Line rapid transit bus.

Construction impacts small businesses

Unlike big, deep-pocketed chain stores, small businesses like his don’t have the resources to weather a downturn, Senthivel says.

“No entrepreneur, no local person needs to go bankrupt because there is an infrastructure project in the city. It’s just not fair. Big business, they can do it. It’s just a store for them. That’s all. But a lot of people’s livelihoods and dreams…shouldn’t be affected in this way.”

The City of Vancouver says it is doing everything in its power to lessen the impact of the project on local businesses, including assisting with loading and parking on adjacent streets, as well as in-person outreach to property owners. of business. An online support campaign launched last year, the city added.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation said the project team is notifying businesses of construction activities, trying to address their concerns and raise awareness that businesses are still open and accessible during construction.

Work is expected to continue through 2024 with the extended line officially opening in 2025,

At the beginning of this century, the construction of the Canada Line led some businesses and the Cambie Street Corridor to take legal action. A former business owner said more than three dozen businesses closed when construction tore Cambie Street from West 2nd Avenue to West King Edward Avenue. Some merchants won a class action lawsuit in 2018.

Senthivel said he supports public transit, but believes it shouldn’t come at the expense of local businesses.

“This situation is not just a construction project,” he said. “This is a project that can sink businesses across the Broadway corridor.”

Bonny J. Streater