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Business reps question traffic plan for 2010 games

A Park Theatre proprietor and Cambie Village Business Association spokesman fears parking bans during the 2010 Winter Olympics will hurt members already reeling from Canada Line construction.

"It's very unfortunate that no one consulted with us before doing this plan," Leonard Schein said. "We would obviously like to have parking on the sidestreets available to our customers when we lose that parking on Cambie. I guess that'll be up to the new [city] council."

Charles Gauthier was expecting worse from yesterday's release of the City of Vancouver's long-awaited 2010 Winter Olympics transportation plan. But the executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association says more answers are needed.

"There's not a lot of details," Gauthier said. "Are these 24-7 closures? Are they going to operate like bus lanes downtown, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.?"

City hall says it needs to reduce vehicle traffic by up to 35 per cent during the Games so that streets and bridges can accommodate VANOC's fleet of 2,300 cars, vans and SUVs and 1,000 motorcoaches plus TransLink buses.

A city map shows a network of lanes restricted to Olympic traffic, expanded rush hour parking bans and pedestrian and cycling routes.

Vancouverites got a sneak peek in September when city council OK'd $650,000 for 6,000 banners on 10 major streets, including the entire length of Granville, Robson from Broughton to B.C. Place Stadium and Hastings from Boundary to Burrard.

The provincial government quietly amended the Motor Vehicle Act in April to allow Olympic lanes.

The draft Vancouver map stops at bridges to the North Shore and Richmond.

The comprehensive VANOC transportation plan was originally expected by the end of 2007, but is a work in progress that won't be done until March 2009.

"We have five very, very tough months ahead of us," VANOC executive vice-president Terry Wright told 24 hours in October.

London 2012 organizers, by contrast, asked for public input on a draft plan in 2006.

Wright said Vancouver's is being left so late because previous organizing committees told VANOC that "people don't retain" the information.

Wright said Sea-to-Sky Highway lane closures haven't been confirmed, but restrictions are most likely in mornings when more than 25,000 people will be destined for venues.

Bob Mackin reports for 24 Hours.

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