Fraser Street small businesses reporting pay parking woes

The city wants traffic turnover but small businesses experiencing customer downturn

Sam Shaer, owner of Vic's Styling Centre on Fraser & 45th, cuts hair and talks about the decrease in customers.
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By Jacob Hoheisel

Small businesses say pay parking on Fraser Street is taking its toll.

It’s been four months since the introduction of new parking meters and pay parking lots in the Fraser Street area between 43rd and 49th avenues and some small businesses are reporting fewer customers and a downturn in business.

Sam Shaer, owner of Vic’s Styling Centre, a barber shop, said he has to speak out against the meters.

“It affects everyone on Fraser Street … especially in the back [lots]. People driving from other neighbourhoods don’t stay as long now because they have to watch the time.”

Shaer says his business is down 20 to 30 per cent.

“The big business takes over the little business. It’s like a shark eating all the small fish.”

Vancouver city council voted to end 60 years of free parking in the area at the recommendation of the city’s engineering services department.

A petition signed by 90 businesses, representing about 50 per cent of the stores on Fraser Street, opposed the installation of meters. The city still went ahead despite the opposition.

The engineering service’s report cited revenue generation, an effort to cut emissions, and a way to rotate more traffic through the area as reasons for installing the meters.

Rob Nijjar, executive director of South Hill Business Association, said that North American studies about implementing pay parking in business areas show that although there is an impact to businesses at first, the benefit is more people come into the area and they’re able to find parking.

Theresa Nguyen, owner of Purple Rainbow Florist, said like the other independently owned shops in the area, her business is down since the meters went in. When people do come into her shop, Nguyen said they don’t stay as long anymore.

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