Car-free Sundays stall on The Drive - Metro US

Car-free Sundays stall on The Drive

Organizers have put the brakes on The Drive’s weekly car-free summer festivities after merchants complained that it was bad for business.

Open Streets, one of Vancouver’s four recurring car-free Summer Spaces events, closed Commercial Drive from Venables Street to First Avenue and was supposed to run on Sundays throughout July and August.

Craig Ollenberger, a director with Car Free Vancouver, said the decision to cancel the remaining Commercial Drive Open Streets festivities was made after the majority of businesses said they were not interested in seeing it continue.

“It was a festive and fun environment,” Ollenberger said. “It’s too bad it didn’t get a chance to grow … but we figured it was better to respect the concerns of business.

“We saw how it can look; we now need to tweak it to make it work better,” he added.

Part of the problem, said Coun. Andrea Reimer, was the re-routing of the No. 20 bus from Commercial Drive to Clark Drive.

It meant some potential shoppers had to walk four blocks through semi-industrial areas in temperatures in the mid-30s.

However, Reimer, a proponent of Summer Spaces, said she was not disappointed that Commercial Drive’s Open Streets was cancelled after four of the seven scheduled events.

“I’m taking a long view on this,” Reimer said. “Last July and August we had zero Summer Spaces … It still is a lot more progress than we’ve had in the past.”

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