Businesses must be kept in loop

One group of stakeholders was left out of consultations in the pending closure of Craigflower Bridge.

A lot of thought went into how the long-term closure of Craigflower Bridge would affect everything from schoolkids to salmon. However, planners were much less mindful in their treatment of a segment especially sensitive to upheaval these days.

Small business owners who count on access to their shops for customers seem to have been left out of most discussions around replacing the bridge.

Traffic, it is said, flows like water through a city’s streets. Motorists will find the quickest way to get where they need to go. When one route closes, formerly less-popular roads will attract a trickle of traffic before becoming a  new tributary until the blockage is removed.

Even then, vehicles will stick to the paths they know unless another route proves itself to be more efficient.

Planners take this into consideration when contemplating changes to traffic patterns. Whether the disruption is caused by road maintenance or more significant upgrades, such as a new bridge, care is taken to try and ease the pain for the public.

In the case of the Craigflower Bridge, the municipalities it connects – Saanich and View Royal – are primarily looking for options to allow pedestrians and cyclists to still be able to cross that stretch of the Gorge waterway. Motorists, who arguably account for the majority of people shopping at Admirals Walk, will have to journey an extra four kilometres to get across.

We hope people will think beyond their immediate circumstance and make a choice to stay loyal to those affected businesses that have earned their trust. But that’s a lot to ask.

A better solution would have been for municipal planners to give the area’s economic ecosystem the same consideration as the salmon and schoolkids.

More information much earlier in the process would have gone a long way to helping business owners prepare for the tough times they’re sure to face.