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Wet, cold weather hurts North Shore businesses

Weather gurus are claiming that summer in Metro Vancouver has only been slightly cooler than normal, but North Shore businesses are feeling a major difference.

Weather gurus are claiming that summer in Metro Vancouver has only been slightly cooler than normal, but North Shore businesses are feeling a major difference.

Virtually any company that relies on sunny days has been affected, some a lot more than others.

"We have been hit so bad this year. This is the worst year by far," says Gary Nedergard, manager at North Vancouver's Northlands Golf Course.

According to Nedergard, the golf course has broken several "bad records" pertaining to weather and bookings in 2011. While the average rainfall at Northlands is normally about eight feet per year, Nedergard said it's already up to six and a half. One Saturday in July saw 50 millimetres of precipitation, which is typically the month-long average.

"Close to 65 per cent of every day since January there's been some sort of poor weather keeping golfers away," said Nedergard, noting the wet months are still to come.

Bookings are down between 25 per cent and 40 per cent per month, he added. In May, the roughest hit so far, that translated into 4,100 rounds of golf - far below the norm of 6,500. June wasn't too far behind with 5,700 rounds down from 7,200.

"Weather dictates how much people want to play and can play," said Nedergard. "We have a lot of regular golfers that play here week in and week out and they would maybe have 20-25 rounds in by now and they're probably into 8-10 rounds, maybe."

To make up for its thinning bottom line, Northlands has had to hold off on new projects, reduce expenses and send staff home early. "When the revenue doesn't come in you just have to look at other ways to try to keep afloat," said Nedergard.

"We live and die by the weather and it makes it a tough year when the weather is continually getting extreme."

Many restaurants, specifically those with outdoor seating, have also been negatively impacted by the lacklustre weather.

The Village Taphouse, located in The Village at Park Royal in West Vancouver, has a booming patio when the skies are blue - but that's only been a handful of times this summer.

"We're losing probably between 100 and 120 customers a day right now," said Colin Denton, assistant general manager at the pub.

The Taphouse's two large patios can seat up to 140 people, and attract not only foot traffic from shoppers and beachgoers, but also a late-night crowd.

"When it's 18 or 19 degrees outside at 10 o'clock at night, the best thing to do is come out for a drink on our patio," said Denton. "We're losing all of that."

Servers, whose shifts are regularly being called off, are also feeling the burn.

"After a while, everyone starts getting depressed," said Denton.

That sentiment was echoed by Casey Nicholson, manager at North Shore Girl, who has noticed an anecdotal change in business this season.

"I think everybody is just kind of bummed. Why go shopping when you're not really in a good mood?" she said.

At a time when bikinis, shorts and dresses are normally flying off the shelves, Nicholson said she hasn't had to put in many new orders for seasonal wear.

The store, which is located in Central Lonsdale, is dependent on passersby. But on rainy days, it can't compete with the comfort of a shopping mall, according to Nicholson.

"With school out, usually we get little clumps of girls and stuff like that and we haven't really seen that much this year," she said.

"When you have cloudy days who's going to go out and buy a bikini to wear to the beach 'cause there's not really a beach to go to."