Nancy James, owner of the Maresa Boutique, Bunny Doyle, owner of Shabby Rabbit clothing, and Dale Shaw, owner of the Oak Bay Gallery, said their businesses are struggling despite reopening after COVID-19 closures and now face additional hardship due to the parking turned into patio space in Oak Bay Village. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Nancy James, owner of the Maresa Boutique, Bunny Doyle, owner of Shabby Rabbit clothing, and Dale Shaw, owner of the Oak Bay Gallery, said their businesses are struggling despite reopening after COVID-19 closures and now face additional hardship due to the parking turned into patio space in Oak Bay Village. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Owners say loss of parking pushes businesses to the brink

New Penny Farthing patio ‘will be like New Orleans, or Las Vegas’

A trio of business owners on Oak Bay Avenue say their shops might not recover from the COVID-19 crisis now that four parking spots were removed across the street to make room for a pub patio.

Bunny Doyle, who owns the Shabby Rabbit clothing store at 2225 Oak Bay Ave., says she was unaware the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis were going to use the four street parking stalls in front of their side of the street until they were already approved by the District. The parking stalls in front of the Penny Farthing, Vis a Vis, Rogers Chocolate and Walk In Comfort are now protected by bollards and the Penny Farthing is in the process of setting up patio seating where the parking stalls are.

Oak Bay council voted on May 28 to allow businesses to apply to temporarily expand their businesses onto sidewalks or take over parking spots.

Doyle is one of three tenants on the commercial front of the building, between Maresa Boutique women’s clothing, owned by Nancy James, and the Oak Bay Gallery, owned by Dale Shaw.

READ MORE: Oak Bay restaurant seeks patio space

“We’re the last ones, we haven’t been considered at all,” Doyle said. “They’re giving [the Penny] extra and it’s coming out of our pockets. It’s going to be New Orleans or Las Vegas over there with day drinking. “

It’s not just the retail stores that draw people to Oak Bay Village, Doyle noted. It’s the Village’s five banks (which are now reopening), it’s the pharmacy, chiropractor, dentist, hairstylist and more.

“We need that foot traffic, and without parking the Village will lose it,” Doyle said.

In hopes of stimulating their own business Doyle applied for a dedicated “Oak Bay Gallery, Shabby Rabbit, Maresa Boutique” retail parking sign for the only two parking spots in front of their building.

Mayor Kevin Murdoch noted the biggest parking lot in the Village, at the Monterey Recreation Centre and library directly behind the Shabby Rabbit, has about 75 spots and will remain mostly empty for the summer. Seven parking spots behind municipal hall are also being converted for use by patrons of the Village, Murdoch said.

Even so, people prefer convenience, Doyle said.

“Us retailers don’t offer a necessary service, we offer a fun service, so we’re the ones who’re going to suffer,” Doyle said. “We certainly don’t have the draw that alcohol has, and just imagine the noise we are going to hear.”

Doyle said she left three messages with the Penny Farthing to talk to the owner about the parking spots.

“Parking is the number one complaint… people are always saying there’s not enough parking, so [I’m] a little choked,” James said. “There are [other] options [for the pub], they could leave the space open to parking until 5 p.m., during business hours.”

Any loss of parking is a concern, Murdoch said.

“Council weighed the loss of some on-street parking spots with the benefits of drawing people to our commercial centres and through other ways of helping all businesses,” Murdoch said. “I hope people know that there is lots of parking around the Village and we are welcoming people to visit and shop.”

The council decision was created to benefit the pubs and restaurants following two months of closures and lower seating capacity, Murdoch explained.

“Council felt it critical to do what we could to help them survive, but we have reached out to every business in Oak Bay to ask what we can do to help them,” Murdoch said.

Doyle said they’d like to see a relaxation on the limited residential parking on the Village sidestreets opened up to a two-hour limit, and to limit the Penny Farthing and Vis a Vis patio seats to the parking spots in front of their businesses, and not the whole building front, which would “liberate” two spots in front of Rogers Chocolates and Walk In Comfort, James added.

Murdoch said the District is working on additional improvements in the Village to make the public washrooms more visible, adding signage to ensure people know about the Monterey parking lot and are looking at adding secure bike parking for local workers and visitors.

READ ALSO: Garden Works time on Oak Bay Avenue running out

“We’d like to see bylaw enforcement on The Avenue,” Doyle said. “People leave their cars for three and four hours in two-hour spots, and some people park blocking our driveway [access to staff and residential parking at the back].

“And we’d like to see more signage telling people where to park.”

James pointed to an elderly woman with a dog using a walker to navigate the Oak Bay Avenue sidewalk in front of Maresa Boutique.

“There are 150 others just like her [who live nearby so they can walk into the Village],” James said. “Look at how much trouble she has. And if she wants to be on [the other] side of the street she’ll have to dodge servers, drinkers and diners, and people clearing tables.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

oak bay

Just Posted

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

Interior Health nurses were administering COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aides in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. In Salmon Arm on March 11, guests, staff and support personnel at the Salvation Army's Lighthouse Shelter at McGuire Lake were vaccinated. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
Roden: I can’t wait to get shot

What, me worried about the COVID-19 vaccine? Not in the slightest

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

Cynthia Cummings, decked out in tie-die at The Funky Food Truck in Royal Bay, Colwood. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Psychedelic food truck the next thing for veteran’s wife in Colwood

From tropical resort to thrift store and now a food truck, if Cynthia Cummings thinks it, she’ll do it

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp and gardener Greg Higgs restart the restored water wheel at the campus’ Japanese Garden. (Photo courtesy of Royal Roads University)
Restored water wheel returns to Japanese Garden at Royal Roads in Colwood

The wooden wheel was initially installed betweem 1915 and 1930

Nanaimo-based musician Shawn Hall, the ‘Harpoonist’ in the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer blues duo, is presenting a free, live-streamed show from the Port Theatre on April 23. (Photo courtesy Colin McTaggart)
Nanaimo musician Shawn Hall presents free online show from the Port Theatre

Last year Hall released ‘Satellite Man’ EP with new group Satellite and the Harpoonist

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Most Read