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Traffic chaos at night market opening

Raymond Cheung
Raymond Cheung's Richmond Night Market was a huge draw last weekend.
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Thousands of customers flocked to the city’s two night markets last weekend—drawing large crowds and creating traffic gridlock.

“What is a word beyond successful, overwhelming? It was more than what we expected in terms of attendance,” said Raymond Cheung, organizer of the Richmond Night Market, which opened for its first weekend last Friday.

The market—its first year at the Duck Island location—caused heavy traffic delays in north Richmond, particularly around River Rock Casino Resort, on Friday and Saturday nights.

So popular was the market, by 10 p.m. on the first two market nights, one-third of food booths were sold out. Cheung said at least 10,000 people came to the market each night, with attendance falling with the rain Sunday and Monday.

All that traffic didn’t sit well with casino operators, who are calling on the city to address traffic issues.

Casino spokesperson Howard Blank said there was a lack of traffic control personnel and training, along with a lack of signs advising motorists of the correct route. He said traffic delayed the casino’s George Thorogood concert by 25 minutes—and 80 ticket-buyers didn’t even make it in for the start of the Friday night concert.

“We have to be on top of this immediately, because if you run for a few weeks in a row with impossible traffic you are going to lose your valued guests. And that’s something we’ve been concerned about all along.”

But Cheung said after a weekend of “tuning up,” he expects traffic—and gate lineups—to improve. He said a lot of customers already took advantage of the market’s proximity to the Canada Line, and he expects more people to use transit to access future markets.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the city is aware of the market’s traffic issues, and are investigating.

“Most of the issues seem to revolve around volumes of traffic, so it’s a matter of collectively analyzing where the bottlenecks lay and how to alleviate them.”

Brodie said traffic volume at the other market—the Summer Night Market on Vulcan Way behind Home Depot—was busy, but normal.

Operator Paul Cheung said 18,000 people attended his market on both Friday and Saturday for opening weekend earlier this month, and attendance is similar to last year during peak season.

“It’s amazingly spectacular. I’m quite surprised by the amount of people,” he said. “Obviously the rainy days didn’t do to well for us but in terms of Friday, Saturday, with good weather, it was very packed.”

Paul Cheung credited the Summer Night Market’s regular neighbourhood consultation in avoiding traffic headaches, along with tweaks made to control traffic—such as moving the pay parking booth to the exit instead of the entrance.

His market’s shuttle bus—connecting Vulcan Way with Bridgeport Station—has been full almost each trip, said Paul Cheung, adding traffic at his rival’s market has led to a new pickup spot on Great Canadian Way.

Both markets will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights all summer.

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