While most B.C. restaurants and businesses have started to cautiously welcome customers again, many longtime landmarks inside Stanley Park remain shuttered.
“I don’t see it being feasible to open when the roadways are closed,” said Noel Singh, the pastry chef at The Teahouse in Stanley Park.
Prospect Point Cafe and Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours are also still closed because customers can’t drive to the park.
“All the other restaurants in the city have been given the chance to get back to some normalcy. But we still haven’t gotten that,” said Gabrielle Lee, event coordinator for The Teahouse.
Malcolm Bromley, general manager of Vancouver’s Board of Parks and Recreation, ordered the park closed to vehicles in April.
“It could be opened tomorrow if the general manager said so,” said Park Board commissioner John Coupar. “I supported the closure during COVID. We wanted everyone to stay safe. But now, everyone has stayed safe. Let’s open Stanley Park for everybody.”
Businesses believe the roads are still closed because Park Board staff are making plans to reduce traffic from two lanes to one.
“I saw a drawing from parks the other day that they were going to put concrete barriers down the middle of the road throughout the park, and also they’re going to barricade our parkade off as well for bikers,” said Nancy Stibbard, of Prospect Point Cafe.
The same plan shows the Teahouse losing its parking lot as well.
“Commissioners haven’t even seen that yet; that’s a big concern,” said Coupar. “Also, if there is any spending, commissioners need to approve that. So that will be a further delay if we’re waiting to open until we get that approved.”
The businesses are pleading for park staff to let cars back in while they finalize long term plans for the roadway and for parking.
“July and August are just around the corner, we ought to be operating to make a little bit of revenue in order to carry us through the winter,” said Gerry O’Neil, of Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours.
“It’s time to open Stanley Park now,” he said.
If cars stay away much longer, or parking lots are blocked off, several iconic park businesses may not survive.
“We don’t see how it’s going to work for our business,” said Lee, of the Teahouse.
“They’re making it impossible for us to do business,” echoed Stibbard, of Prospect Point. “I don’t know how we’ll move forward at this point.”
A summer without tourists will be difficult enough for Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours. If locals can’t drive to the park, the company may not survive.
“Everybody around the park, I mean, we’re not multi-nationals. Everybody is family run businesses,” said O’Neil. “Its really setting you up for failure.”