Businesses in North Sydney are recommending a pedway or shuttle service to ensure ferry passengers have access to their stores once tighter security measures are in place at the ferry terminal.

Currently, passengers can leave the Marine Atlantic parking lot to visit local stores by passing through a gate. But the gate will be closed as of April 1, when new Transport Canada regulations take effect.

"We don't want people sitting in the parking lot not able to come into the community," said Monique Cashin, with the local Business Improvement and Development Association.

Cashin met Monday with representatives of Marine Atlantic. She said her association suggested a number of options, such as a shuttle bus or pedway.

"Another option is having passengers leave the compound entirely and go out the highway and come back up over the overpass using infrastructure that needs to be improved," she said.

Cashin said it's in Marine Atlantic's interest to ensure access to the downtown businesses.

"Then they have a happier customer," she said. "It improves the quality of the experience for the person that's sitting in the parking lot and they're happier when they get on the boat."

Marine Atlantic wasn't available to comment on Monday. Another meeting is scheduled for Feb. 1.