VANCOUVER -- Businesses in the Marpole neighbourhood are "barely holding their heads above water" as many were forced or volunteered to close during the pandemic.

As customers slowly trickle back, businesses may have to face another hurdle as discussions are now beginning about possible changes to Granville Street.

"We were a little bit taken aback because we had no advance notice of potentially any changes to the road network, Granville Street in particular, given that it is a busy thoroughfare,” says Claudia Laroye, executive director of the Marpole Business Improvement Association.

Laroye first learned TransLink will be recommending changes at the latest Mayors’ Council for Regional Transportation meeting on June 25.

Granville Street is one of 20 corridors that have been identified by TransLink as having major congestion.

"We need to look for efficiencies and we need to look for smarter ways to do that," says Ben Murphy, spokesperson for TransLink.

TransLink is exploring a variety of ideas, including changing left-turn signals and removing parking spots.

The idea of possibly losing parking has Laroye concerned.

She says businesses are just starting to pick back up as customers slowly become comfortable with the idea of dining in, shopping and attending appointments.

"To have all of that put in jeopardy at a time when everyone is operating at razor-thin margins…is not what we need to have right now," she says. "What does parking removal mean for those areas? If in fact that is what’s being proposed."

Murphy says TransLink wants to partner with businesses and will be consulting with them for the report.

"A strong transit system is absolutely a benefit to businesses as well, and I think we need to get away from this idea that it’s either transit or it’s business and you can’t have both -- you can absolutely have both," he says.

At the last meeting, TransLink numbers show ridership has gone down by 33 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers.

"In terms of encouraging transit, it’s not about speed, it’s about comfort and safety," Laroye says, adding many community members expressed at a recent meeting that that they didn’t feel comfortable riding transit because face coverings aren’t mandatory.

Laroye says she and other BIAs have a virtual meeting scheduled with TransLink next week.

While TransLink is consulting with stakeholders and providing proposals, it won’t be taking any actions.

"Ultimately, it’s the municipalities who decide what they want to do with their road space," Murphy says.

TransLink is expected to provide recommendations at the next mayors’ council meeting at the end of the month.