Small businesses claim Broadway subway construction causing revenue losses

Small business owners in Vancouver say they have fewer customers and are making less money, and it's not just because of the pandemic.

Construction on the new Broadway subway line is well underway. Some vehicle lanes and street parking along West Broadway between Main and Arbutus streets have been eliminated as a result.

Vivian Zeng owns the We Do Beauty salon near Arbutus Street and West Broadway. She says customers are cancelling their appointments because they’re having trouble finding anywhere to park.

"They say 'Vivian, I love you, but because of (the construction), I need to go somewhere else'," Zeng said.

On top of the inconvenience, Zeng says noise from the construction has become unbearable. She and her staff have been taking Advil while on shift because the constant drilling and sawing gives them headaches. Zeng’s concerned she may end up losing an employee because of all the racket.

"If this issue is going to continue for a long time, she’s going to quit."

Broadway subway construction is different from the cut-and-cover method that devastated businesses along the Cambie corridor when the Canada Line was constructed ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics. This time around, vehicle decks are being built to let cars travel above while boring machines create the subway tunnel underground. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025, and street parking will be reduced until then.

"It’s definitely hurting business," said Jory Shepek, co-owner of the Better Bodies gym on West Broadway near Arbutus Street.

With street parking ripped up, the gym owners have been forced to buy extra stalls in the building parkade for their customers. Each spot comes with a 24 per cent parking tax, a pricy premium that comes as the fitness centre tries bouncing back from COVID-19 related closures.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure tells CTV News that outreach with businesses impacted by the subway project continues, and they're working with the City of Vancouver to address parking needs on streets adjacent to West Broadway.

"While the construction phase can be disruptive, the benefits of the completed project will far outweigh any temporary disruptions," a ministry spokesperson told CTV News in a statement. "This project will benefit many British Columbians by expanding fast, frequent and convenient SkyTrain service and advancing the Province’s commitment to green transportation infrastructure."

Shepek and Zeng agree expanded transit would help business, but they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to weather the storm of construction. They’re calling on the B.C. government to step up and provide some form of reimbursement for lost revenue.

"We’re trying so hard to survive during the pandemic, and now we’re facing this problem for another few years," said Zeng.

Once complete, the Broadway Subway Project will move passengers from the VCC-Clark SkyTrain Station to Arbutus in approximately 11 minutes.