A survey conducted by the City of Whitehorse on this summer's Main Street town square pilot project suggests residents and business owners didn't experience the initiative quite the same way.
The online survey, conducted between Sept. 14 and Oct. 1, had 1,493 responses: 1,236 from the general public, and 257 from business owners including 56 businesses adjacent to the town square.
The $169,000 project, which ran from June to September, closed a block of Main Street to vehicles and provided space for public art, entertainment, restaurant patios and food trucks.
The city survey found that 54 per cent of respondents from the general public were satisfied with the project, while 53 per cent of businesses were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the project.
Of the businesses adjacent to the town square who responded to the survey, only 21 per cent said they were satisfied with the project, while 62 per cent said they were dissatisfied.
"The main positive aspects of the project were feeling safe within the space, the cleanliness and the atmosphere or inviting nature of the pedestrian area for residents and businesses," Stephanie Chevalier, the city's economic development coordinator, told council on Monday.
"And the main negative impact identified by businesses were less parking, traffic flow disruption and accessibility."
Chevalier points out that while some retail business owners reported a decrease in revenue during the pilot project, other food and beverage businesses saw an increase in their sales.
However, she also said there were additional factors that played a part in lowering this summer's business revenues — including inflation, and the number of people spending time downtown.
"Many Yukoners were also away this summer for their holidays, because it had been years that traveling was not possible," Chevalier said.
"So the Yukon was quite empty of its people for quite a part of this summer."
While the survey showed some dissatisfaction with the town square initiative, it also found that many respondents would like to see something similar in the future.
Fifty-six per cent of the general public who responded to the survey said they'd like to see it happen again.
But of the adjacent businesses who responded, only 33 per cent would like to see another town square project.
Chevalier says businesses are asking for at least six months notice if the project is to come back in the future. She told city council that she heard several complaints about not having time to prepare and lack of consultation.
Stephanie Chevalier is the economic development coordinator for the City of Whitehorse. (Submitted by the City of Whitehorse)
"There was an expectation that once it would have been voted by council, there would be again, some consulting for defining how to implement ... the reality is we had three weeks to implement once council had voted," Chevalier said.
Mayor Laura Cabott says criticism should not mean throwing out the whole concept.
"Our staff were put into a pretty tight timeline to make this happen," Cabott said. "So it's not a surprise that there is a fair bit of dissatisfaction."
Business owners are also asking to consider changing the location. The survey suggests the riverfront or Front Street between Main and Steele Streets as potential options for next summer.
The city says it will take a look at the favoured locations for 2024.