From quaint to over-run: Has Deep Cove lost its magic?

Tour buses and traffic snarls threaten village charm, merchants and residents say

The Cove has lost its magic.

Deep Cove resident and merchant Megan Curren has been in business for 14 years but says things haven’t been business-as-usual in the Cove for the last few years.

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“For about 10 of those years, visitors came and had a lovely experience … but visitor feedback (more recently) has become overwhelmingly negative,” she recently told the District of North Vancouver. “The Cove has lost its magic, a magic that should be shared and protected for generations to come.”

Curren, along with 27-year-Cove-resident Sari McCall, appeared before council Mar. 12 as part of the Residents and Merchants of Deep Cove Initative to present the results of a recently completed survey that weighed issues facing residents and business owners.

The survey was filled out by 395 people.

“Vehicle congestion has increased exponentially since the parking survey done in 2014,” McCall told council. “For example, on a sunny Saturday this past February congestion was so severe that I personally witnessed two firetrucks, sirens blazing, that could not get into the Cove due to gridlock at the top of Gallant Avenue.”

Traffic from tour buses and visitors has heavily affected residents and business owners who struggle with a lack of parking for locals and employees, they said.

“When our own taxpaying residents do not feel safe walking on their own streets as a result of speeding and dangerous driving, and do not to feel assured that an emergency vehicle can access their home on any sunny day – this is unacceptable for any community,” McCall said.

Curren and McCall added, based on the survey responses, no-smoking bylaws need greater enforcement, specifically on the often overpopulated Quarry Rock trail.

They asked council for a full-time bylaw officer to enforce parking restrictions and smoking violations in the community. They also asked for restrictions on tour buses, more resident parking and traffic control, and greater management of Quarry Rock, which has become heavily populated during the sunny summer months.

“We feel that immediate action is vital before the summer,” McCall said. “We are fully aware that these are short-term solutions. We hope that we will at least slow the bleeding.”

Coun. Robin Hicks noted that many of the issues facing Deep Cove are similar to problems common in seaside communities in the U.K.

“They’ve largely driven traffic outside of the city centre by thick … double yellow lines everywhere and large parking lots a mile or so away. Is that something you’d countenance in Deep Cove?”

McCall said the community wants people to come and enjoy Deep Cove, but added there needs to be a more effective way for large swaths of people to visit, like a shuttle bus or another mode of transit into the area.

“We just don’t want their vehicles,” she said.

A task force made up of Deep Cove community members and district representatives is also planned in order to keep a dialogue going regarding long-term solutions.

“The crowds are already coming, the sunny weather’s here … and we have to create some improvements right now,” noted Coun. Lisa Muri.

District council was receptive to Curren and McCall’s presentation and said the issues would be looked at by council and staff in an upcoming workshop and council meeting.

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