Vancouver city council studying financial relief for Broadway businesses hurt by subway construction

Businesses affected by the construction of Vancouver’s Broadway subway may soon be eligible for financial relief from the city.

City councilors voted unanimously in favor of a motion aimed at providing such relief at their Standing Committee on City Finance and Services meeting last week.

Proposed by Coun. Colleen Hardwick, the motion directs city staff to “explore options on ways to provide relief to commercial properties affected in the ‘cut and cover’ locations along the Broadway Subway corridor,” and specifically cites a City of Montreal program that offers up to $40,000 per year to merchants suffering revenue losses related to major construction projects.

The motion also floats the possibility of property tax reductions for affected businesses as an option staff should consider.

“Construction of the Broadway subway has disrupted the business of merchants and commercial operators along the Broadway corridor,” the motion reads. “The loss of business has had a profound impact on the livelihoods of both property owners and renters of commercial space along the Broadway corridor.”

While the Broadway subway is being constructed with boring machines, rather than the full “cut-and-cover” method used to construct the Canada Line ahead of the 2010 Olympics, the motion notes that some sections still require the more disruptive method.

Canada Line construction prompted lawsuits and led many businesses to close due to lost income.

More than a decade later, businesses along the Broadway corridor have complained about the loss of parking and foot traffic during construction, and the motion says “mitigation measures have not been effective at offsetting business losses.”

In a statement on Twitter Last week, the BC chapter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business praised Hardwick and the rest of council for approving the motion.

“Hopefully a relief package with concrete measures will be adopted soon as we continue to hear from business owners suffering revenue losses and lack of customers driven away by the Broadway construction,” the federation said.

The CFIB also called on the provincial government to introduce a standard construction impact mitigation policy for provincially funded projects like the Broadway subway.

The $2.8-billion project will extend the SkyTrain Millennium Line from VCC Clark Station to Arbutus Street. Currently scheduled to be completed in 2025, the 5.7-kilometre route will take passengers from one end to the other in just 11 minutes.

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