Victoria Street may become the home of a new bus exchange, but business owners in the area are worried about the impact the move could have on their bottom line.
“I’m concerned that we might lose some business from passing trade. Like all accommodators in Nelson, an element of our business is from drive-by traffic,” says Chris Drysdale, owner of Cloudside Inn. “I can tell you exactly how many people each year come in because they’ve just seen the house.”
A service review, presented by BC Transit and the City of Nelson, proposed the current bus exchange at Baker and Ward streets be moved to the 400 block of Victoria Street, where Cloudside Inn is located.
“The current location is too jammed up,” says Mayor John Dooley. “It simply can’t accommodate the number of buses that are in and out of the exchange at this point in time. And as we realign the system to include a more cohesive, regional plan for transit, it’s just not going to be sufficient to manage all the buses that are going to be exchanging there.”
The proposed exchange would accommodate four bus bays with options for four additional bays identified on Ward and Stanley Streets.
The review also said the street would be for buses only and would be closed to general-purpose traffic.
“That could damage our business to the point of us being unsustainable,” says Drysdale about the closure of the block.
“There is an element of our business that drives by. Our guests all have to register and park at the front of the house, but I’m sure there might be an exception for that. We would lose the business from people who see us when they drive by.”
The 12 parking spots located in the 400 block of Victoria Street would be removed if the exchange is moved to that location and six parking spots would be added where the current exchange is.
Dooley says the 400 block has not been confirmed as the future destination of the exchange.
“That’s the spot that BC Transit identified. Somewhere on Victoria would be ideal for a new bus exchange, but that’s just one proposed idea, and we have to look at the actual pros and cons of that location as far as how it would fit with our businesses and the traffic patterns,” he says.
“There have been some concerns expressed by the Capitol of how they would get trucks and buses in for some performances, and one of the businesses has contacted me directly, the Inn, and said that it may impact their business directly, as far as the noise goes and the diesel from the buses. All those concerns will be taken in to consideration when we make our decision.”
The city will review the recommendation by BC Transit and decide what works best.
Drysdale suggests the 300 block of Victoria Street might be better suited for the bus exchange.
“That block is a bit wider, and there are businesses like El Taco and Thor’s Pizza that may benefit from having the extra people around. There are also public service buildings nearby,” he says.
There had been rumours the exchange would just be a temporary location and the permanent location of the bus exchange would by the new Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce when construction is completed at the old railway building at the foot of Baker Street.
Dooley said some exchanges would happen at that location, but the main exchange will be closer to the downtown core.
The city will not be deciding on the location of the exchange for a couple of months.
“Those are not short term initiatives. This is part of a long-term plan to integrate transit throughout the region and make it more cost efficient and user friendly for the public so people are more encouraged to use the transit system,” said Dooley.