One of Vancouver’s most iconic tourist destinations is getting a cash injection from the federal government that local businesses hope will be a lifeline to keep them afloat.
Granville Island has seen a dramatic drop in visitors over the past year.
In that same time, several businesses have closed and other merchants told Global News they were barely holding on.
“Not everyone was able to survive, we did lose three tenants and they made the decision their lease was up, and they decided not to continue on,” Christine Amantea, manager of the Kids Market, told Global News.
“It was a terrible stressor for all the businesses here, and we got together and we talked about it and we all agreed most of us would not renew our leases, we could go month to month and close if we didn’t get that kind of help,” Donna Dobo, who runs Just Imagine Fun Clothing, added.
Ottawa provided $16 million in rent subsidies in 2020, and the 2021 budget has earmarked another $22 million for the federally-owned property.
That money will go to ensuring rent subsidies continue, along with covering much-needed infrastructure upgrades to the island usually paid for by merchants.
“It’s really significant to my business because if these funds are dedicated to keeping the island open to all, not just the wealthy, then we will see a continuation of business but without those funds I don’t know how it would make it,” Dobo said.
While help in one form is on the way in, another initiative meant to support businesses is on the way out.
Free parking, which was implemented last year to to try and draw visitors, is being phased out on Saturday.
The island’s management says people were coming to the area purely to park, without visiting Granville Island merchants.