Uncertain future for White Rock businesses 1 year after fire
Fire in White Rock's Five Corners neighbourhood displaced 100 people and destroyed several businesses
A full year after a fire tore through an apartment complex in White Rock, displacing 100 residents and destroying several businesses, it's still unclear when the Five Corners neighbourhood will look like it used to.
The Ocean Ridge condominium complex remains behind a blue construction fence as crews rebuild the low rise.
Moe Toufic, whose barber shop on the ground floor of the building was gutted, says it will be fall at the earliest before he can move back into his old space.
Sin 7 Salon across the street is letting him use one of its chairs until he reopens.
"The situation for my building is not moving well and I don't know if they can finish in autumn or not," Toufic said.
"We have to take it as it is. It's not good, but it's OK. It's better than nothing."
Deanna Whissell, whose business Vanilla Clothing was destroyed, has been operating out of a new location on 32 Avenue near 140 Street in south Surrey.
"It's much slower than what we were used to being down at Five Corners," she said.
"It's in a residential area. The store is more than twice the size and we do share it with a home decor store, so our expenses are in line, but we just don't have the walk-by traffic."
Whissell is still debating whether she'll ever return to Five Corners.
"It's tough to say, because we don't have a definitive date," she said.
"It could be February of next year before we can move back. It's a long ways away, so we don't know yet."
Police say the fire was deliberately set, but no arrests have been made.
Laura's Coffee Corner — which is a staple of the Five Corners neighbourhood — reopened last month in a new location across the street from the complex.
Owner Laura Cornale says business has been steady.
"We've had to hire a bunch of new staff, so that's been good," Cornale said during a busy lunch rush on Monday afternoon.
"The neighbourhood has been great."
Having Laura's back is helping nearby businesses as well.
Judy Gray, who works at Edge Fashion next door, says having a bustling coffee shop in the area has increased foot traffic.
"A lot of new customers didn't know we were here and now they do," she said.
"It's bringing in a lot of extra people and that's really wonderful."