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Parking woes hurt Christmas sales for some Coquitlam stores

Svetlana Khaskin stands outside her Euro Foods store on North Road in Coquitlam, which has been losing customers since Evergreen Line construction removed on-street parking. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Svetlana Khaskin stands outside her Euro Foods store on North Road in Coquitlam, which has been losing customers since Evergreen Line construction removed on-street parking.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

The busy Christmas shopping season has been a bust for some businesses in Coquitlam where Evergreen Line construction is in full swing. Instead of busy aisles and manicure stations, the stores and shops in a mini-mall at 555 North Rd. are unusually quiet, the owners say.

"Our business is threatened," said Grigori Khaskin, who owns Euro Foods with his wife Svetlana.

In October, street parking was removed to make way for construction of columns for the elevated rapid transit system, and Khaskin said customers are turning away, either because they can't find parking on a side street or because a small lot at the side of the mall is full.

While shelves are piled high with Russian chocolates, Ukrainian cakes, Polish pickles and Austrian cheese, the aisles are surprisingly empty. Svetlana Khaskin said staff hours have been cut and deliveries have been delayed.

When it snows the situation gets even worse she said, because customers can't get down the steep ramp into the side parking lot.

"And delivery it's a nightmare because trucks can not stop normally," Grigori said.

In one instance, a pallet of food spilled on the sidewalk when the dolly carrying it down the ramp tipped over.

Two other businesses are concerned about their bottom line because of the removal of street parking, a situation which is expected to last until mid-March.

"This time last year, we were so busy,"said Linda Pham, owner of Phat Nail and Spa. Now, business is so slow staff "sit and play cards because they have nothing to do."

Elitech Computer owner Fay Li said parking is so tight in the area that customers have to park blocks away and lug computers to her store. Some are simply going elsewhere to avoid the hassle.

"Christmas time is supposed to be busiest," Li said.

The businesses would like to see more help from EGRT Construction, which is building the Evergreen Line, or the Ministry of Transportation to find a solution to the parking lot. One idea would be to negotiate space at some of the nearby businesses with large parking lots.

Evergreen Line spokesperson Amanda Farrell, said businesses were told to expect lane closures on North Road until mid-March 2014. "On-street parking will not be available until then," she stated in an email.

In the meantime, she said staff will follow up with Euro Foods and invite the owners to participate in an Evergreen Line business liaison committee, which was established two years ago to address concerns of businesses.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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