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Which marshalling option is good for cove businesses?
In the past few months, a number of ferry marshalling options have been presented and discussed in council chambers as well as in the community. Carol Petersen, owner of Nature Encounters Tours & Travel Ltd., with a store situated a few metres away from the ferry line-up, has decided to find out what business owners in Snug Cove think about the different ideas. She has distributed a form that invites comments on whether the businesses are affected by having ferry marshalling close by. She also asks whether business owners would support the ferry line-up staying where it is, if they have seen the various proposed plans and which of them they like.
“I went to the Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce meeting in December to hear about [ferry marshalling options],” Petersen said. “I’ve never been approached as a business owner by council at any time and I’ve been in that store for six years. I’m getting concerned that something is going to happen without any input from businesses in the cove.”
Three options were presented at the Chamber meeting - the south side option that sees moving the line-up through Crippen Park south of Trunk Road, the Plan Z that envisions moving ferry marshalling into Crippen Park north of Trunk Road and the so-called Fletcher Plan that includes traffic cirlces. Petersen believes the options would affect traffic to her store negatively.
“Someone at the meeting suggested that people in the ferry line-up don’t go into businesses to spent money,” she said. “But that’s not true.”
Locals plan to line up early in order to do their shopping, according to Petersen, and tourists are not used to the ferry - they don’t want to venture far from their vehicles after they line up. Both groups are valuable customers that help local businesses survive.
“We depend on tourism,” Petersen says. “Bowen is a small market and how much can islanders buy in each store? The Christmas and summer seasons hold us through the rest of the year.”
Petersen feels that moving the line-up could have serious consequences for her bottom line. “Just in the last three weeks, people are coming into the store from the line-up, picking out a Christmas ornament or a silk batik,” she says. “It’s hard enough to have a business on island, let alone a business that has no traffic.”
Petersen decided to find out what other business owners think and what would work best for them. She also plans to hold a walk through the cove to look at the locations where change, such as the round-about, is proposed. Her only goal is to get information, says Petersen, adding that a number of business owners have already responded.
“People have emailed back and dropped off the survey. There is no right or wrong, I only want to know what they like to see. And what can help and not hinder business,” she said, adding that she considers approaching council with the findings. “Any decision like this affects us greatly.”
Some of the feedback Petersen has received is that there are issues with the line-up during early morning drop-off and peak times, but the rest of the day, the marshalling goes smoothly. She has also heard of ideas to improve the current line-up as well as parking in the cove at a lesser expense. “We could beautify [Snug Cove] but not by spending millions of dollars to do that stuff,” she said. “What I want as a business owner is to exist on Bowen and hire local people who go to the bank here, the stores and the pharmacy - all those things are totally interconnected.”
Petersen’s informal survey concentrates only on business owners in the cove but, judging by the response she has received, she believes that Bowen Islanders will actively participate in a public process.
The deadline to submit comments was January 3 but Petersen is open to extending the time. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (604) 947-9005. “I’ll also be in the store this weekend,” Petersen says, adding that she encourages islanders to share their ideas.
“People are creative,” she says. “One drawing may not fit everyone’s needs but we can try to get the best of all these worlds.”