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Broadway Subway construction impacting local business (VIDEO)

"If you can't stop, you can't shop."

Some Vancouver businesses are already dealing with the impact of the ongoing Broadway Subway Project construction.

The project is a 5.7-kilometre extension of the Millennium SkyTrain line from VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus. The additional line will add six new underground stations along Broadway.

The estimated cost of the project is roughly $2.83 billion, with funding provided by the Province of B.C., the federal government, and the City of Vancouver. 

Theresa Frazao, owner of Rath Art Supplies on Main St., has seen a dramatic drop in sales since construction began outside her business in April.

"I started recording the day that it happened because we noticed an immediate drop in sales," she says.

The construction outside her store involved utility relocation from Broadway, resulting in a lack of pedestrian traffic and parking.

"I would say there's probably a couple hundred dollars a day that's just attributed to walk-in traffic, buying little things here and there. But also I have customers who are picking up these huge custom orders. If someone wants to buy five or six big canvases or wood panels they don't want to have to park blocks away," explains Frazao.

While the bulk of the construction on Main St. has finished, crews still need to restore a median in the area. Neil Wyles, executive director of the Mount Pleasant BIA, has asked officials to delay that work for a year so local businesses have a chance to recover.

"It was an eight-week project that turned into 16 weeks. If you can't stop, you can't shop," states Wyles.

For Frazao, the challenge of getting customers back in her store remains a concern.

"I think it's great to have public transit, but I've just never been impacted so personally before and seen what it does to our bank account as a business. Over the past year and a half, COVID affected us initially, as it did with everyone when we were sort of all terrified. But then overall, for the rest of the year, our sales actually increased, until the construction."

The City of Vancouver has launched a marketing campaign aimed at keeping businesses stable along Broadway in the years to come. It includes advertisements from the city on various social media platforms.

The new line is set to open in 2025.

With files from Brendan Kergin