Cody Younker, Revelstoke City Councillor. (File)

Revelstoke councillor proposes closing downtown street to traffic for business recovery

B.C. restaurants have been restricted to take-out service since March

A local city councillor is putting forward a motion to temporarily restrict part of Revelstoke’s downtown core to traffic this summer.

Cody Younker is proposing Mackenzie Ave. be pedestrian-only between Victoria Rd. and Third Street First and Second Street would remain open to traffic.

Younker said the closure would allow restaurants and businesses to utilize the street for expanding their services, such as patios or retail selling space.

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, restaurants and stores are restricted on how many guests they can serve at a time.

Younker said allowing businesses to expand onto the streets would give them an opportunity to cater to more customers.

“Anything the city can do to help, let’s do it.”

According to a survey conducted by Black Press last month, more than half of the businesses in Revelstoke reported revenue losses beyond 75 per cent.

Almost 20 per cent of businesses did not know if they would survive the pandemic.

READ MORE: COVID-19 leads to 75% revenue loss for half of Revelstoke businesses

The International Monetary Fund has predicted the pandemic will contract the global economy by three per cent and will mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“COVID-19 has caused one of the worst economic crisis we’ve known,” said Younker.

The proposed closure would include Grizzly Plaza. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Statistics Canada reported nearly 2 million jobs were lost last month and the unemployment rate has soared to 13 per cent.

The proposed Revelstoke downtown road closure is just one of the ways to help our local businesses and kick start the local economy, said Younker.

He said his motion suggests the downtown closure being in place from July to September. Afterward, Younker said there can be a hearing and the city can gather feedback and decide whether to make the closure permanent/seasonally or at all.

Younker would also like city staff to add temporary handicapped parking on First and Second Street to make up for the lost parking spots on Mackenzie Ave.

The North Columbia Environmental Society has also sent a letter to the city, supporting Younker’s initiative.

“In the wake of COVID-19, it is imperative that we implement social distancing measures while we encourage local businesses to reopen and reinvigorate our local economy,” reads the letter.

The society notes the proposed closure would allow arts, culture and sustainability to flourish.

The cities of Victoria and Kelowna are also proposing to also expand outdoor patios to sidewalks, parking lots and closing streets to traffic to help boost businesses.

READ MORE: Victoria mayor says city preparing to create open spaces for restaurant recovery

READ MORE: Pedestrians only: Kelowna mayor wants to expand open spaces for restaurants

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, said struggling restaurants need immediate help getting back on their feet and expanding into public spaces would provide more room to serve customers safely.

Restaurants Canada, a not-for-profit industry association, said a recent survey of members found seven out of 10 owners fear they won’t have enough money to pay their expenses over the next three months.

“We need to start getting more innovative rather than sticking to the status quo. There is a time for government to get out of the way and this is one of those times,” said Younker.

He said the motion should be presented to council for approval in the coming weeks.

Updated to include information about the proposal adding temporary handicapped parking along First and Second St to make up for parking spots lost on MackenieAve.



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