British Columbia

White Rock looking 'somewhat' like a ghost town as businesses shutter

One local entrepreneur says there are more vacancies than ever along the waterfront.

Local entrepreneur says there are more vacancies than ever on waterfront

The City of White Rock borders Semiahmoo Bay and is host to dozens of beachfront businesses. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

In the oceanfront City of White Rock, B.C., business owners rely on good weather during fruitful summer months to get through the year.

But lately, businesses are saying more and more places have shut down — even after sunny spells.

Steven Harvey has owned an ice cream shop on Marine Drive for over 10 years and says there are increasing vacancies along the waterfront.

"Not quite a ghost town, but looking somewhat like one," he said.

Steven Harvey has owned an ice cream shop on Marine Drive for more than a decade. He said the area has more vacancies than he's ever seen. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Some locals blame high real estate prices for the closures.

The Sandpiper pub, for example, shut down last fall. It had recently sold for $719,000 over its assessed value.

Others say factors like expensive parking could be playing a part: in the winter, parking rates are set at $1.50 an hour. In the summer, they jump to $3.00 hourly.

Kimm and Glenn Pineau, prospective businessowners, say those fees are one of the reasons they're having second thoughts about setting up shop.

"Rents are crazy high, parking is always an issue and people end up so far away from their cars."

Task force created

The White Rock Business Improvement Association has put together a task force to speak with city officials on the ongoing issue.

A special meeting between the two, as well as the chamber of commerce, is slated for Tuesday.

Still, some say that may not be enough.

"Over the years things have changed. The promotion that was happening before ... is not happening now," one local said.

With files from CBC's Tina Lovgreen