Business owners can now pinpoint where their greatest competition may be during the 2010 Winter Games.
This week municipal staff changed the wording of the proposed temporary commercial use permit (“TCUP”) bylaw so tented stores and food outlets will be restricted to official Olympic venues. Specifically: Celebration Plaza, most of the Franz’s Trail complex in Creekside, the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, the athletes’ village and the sliding centre.
But Bob Dawson, co-owner of the Rim Rock Café, said the change does not alleviate his concerns. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has always said they only plan to put temporary facilities at these spots.
“Celebration Plaza I think is where they were going to put most of this stuff anyways,” said Dawson.
“I think for retail it is good, but if they put a whole bunch of food and beverage places in there, where is the staff going to come from for all these temporary places? Where are they going to live? More than likely, they are going to take them from existing places.”
On the other hand Arthur Blank, owner of Zog’s Dogs, Moguls Coffee House and Gone Bakery, said he was heartened that council and municipal staff listened to business concerns. But he is still worried about business in the Olympic winter.
“It is difficult to say how many people are going to be in the village during the time of the Olympics, and therefore planning for this is very, very difficult,” said Blank.
“We have heard so many different reports suggesting that we should gear up dramatically, because we are going to be so busy, all the way to ‘You might as well rent your place because there is not going to be anybody around and VANOC is going to be selling their own food.’
“It is really difficult to make plans.”
The change to the proposed bylaw was made after staff listened
to the concerns of business owners.
Forty people — mainly business owners — attended the municipality’s open house this month to learn the ins-and-outs of the blanket Olympic bylaw. And nine people spoke out during the public hearing held last week.
“Because VANOC’s main intention is to be able to have these uses at the venues and not in the village, we just decided to delete the village portion,” explained Mayor Ken Melamed.
Council also gathered in municipal hall on Tuesday, Dec. 23 (after Pique went to press), to consider third reading of the amended TCUP bylaw.
The meeting was called last minute because the accommodation portion of the bylaw, which opens up housing for Olympic workers, needs to be wrapped up by February, explained Melamed.
Pique will provide more in-depth coverage of the meeting next week.
Less concern in Vancouver over temporary 2010 rules
Whistler is not the only place pushing through temporary bylaws for the 2010 Games.
The City of Vancouver has similar legislation, although their version of Whistler’s TCUPs has stirred up less concern.
“Definitely there is interest from retailers to understand the use of city streets and what new retail might be provided,” said Paul Henderson, director of Olympic and Paralympic operations for the City of Vancouver.
“I don’t think it is the same (as Whistler). I understand the concerns there to be around competition with existing retailers.”
Earlier this year, Vancouver city council approved a bylaw to make it easier for people to erect temporary buildings, like tents and trailers, in areas controlled by the city and VANOC during the Games.
These areas include the Olympic venues and two celebration sites.
“Specifically the bylaw that was passed was related to the Games, but the idea is to use it as a trial and use a similar approach for future large special events,” said Henderson, using The Vancouver International Children’s Festival as an example.
“The way it works currently is if you don’t meet the specific requirements of the building bylaw, you have to do what is called an Equivalency Analysis. A professional has to say why the proposed solution meets the safety requirements.”
Vancouver is also relaxing its sign bylaws between Jan. 1, 2010 and March 31, 2010. During this period, buildings will be able to sport larger celebration signs with pictures of athletes and other Olympic-related images.
Other temporary-bylaws are also being considered.
“We have interests around the use of city streets and what will be permitted and what will not be permitted around Games time,” Henderson said.
“We want to be able to ensure pedestrian movement and traffic movement, and we also want to minimize the commercialization of city streets to ensure there is greater spectator and resident experiences.”