The Downtown Victoria Business Association’s 2022 report identifies the top issues that concern business owners in our city’s core. As you can see, they revolve around the homeless crisis plaguing our municipality. Please peruse our proposal for solving the homeless problem which is a major part of our platform.
It is apparent the lockdowns were hard on the downtown retailers and the vacancy rate for street level stores continued to grow in 2021. This was also the year of the advent of road closures and sidewalk seating areas. Government and Broad streets were converted to pedestrian only passages. In short, less vehicular access to downtown.
Furthermore, many street side parking spots were removed. Making parking availability one of the primary complaints by business owners apart from the primary concern of safety and crime.
To operate a business you need to be registered with the City of Victoria and obtain a business license. As you can see, a significant downward trend in the number of businesses in our city’s core is a concerning trend. No doubt the pandemic lockdowns were the main driver of failed business, but the growing homeless crisis as well as inaccessibility to cars created by road closures and lost parking (as well as removal of free parking on Sundays) will not help businesses recover.
A major blow to businesses came this year when the city prevented cruiseship buses from directly entering downtown on Government and Douglas streets, feeding many tourist-dependent and post-lockdown hungry businesses. Several merchants were worried about this change. “We’re hanging on by our fingernails, we need this business to survive,” said Brock Eurchuk, operator of Pacific Ports Mercantile. Many other business owners expressed serious concern about the viability of their business without the cruise ship industry which runs from April through November and brings in an estimated $130 million of revenue to Victoria each year. Currently the new route bypasses the classic Belleville and Government routes and takes Blanshard to Yates to stores that are not catered to the needs and wants of cruiseship passengers and starving the Inner Harbour area shops and restaurants.
Here are our proposals to help Victoria’s downtown businesses:
Proposal 1: Re-route the tour guide buses from Ogden Point to their original Belleville and Government Street route.
Proposal 2: Re-open Government Street to vehicular traffic (including tour buses)
Proposal 3: Return as many parking spots as possible which will include removing unnecessary “social distancing” pedestrian pilons currently replacing parking (downtown and on Cook Street, etc).
Proposal 4: FREE PARKING on Saturdays and Sundays to incentivize consumers to return to the downtown core (currently Uptown and Mayfair mall have become popular shopping destinations due to ease of access and free parking and no homeless presence).
Please consider me and my www.vivavictoria.ca teammates this election,
Emmanuel V. Parenteau
 (2022). Downtown Victoria Business Association Annual Report 2022. https://downtownvictoria.ca/reports/
 Kloster, Darron (Feb 2022). Changes to cruiseship routes worry Government Street businesses. Times Colonist. https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/changes-to-cruise-shuttle-route-and-stop-worry-government-street-businesses-landmark-spots-bypassed-5038820
 April, Lawrence (Feb 2022). Victoria businesses say new cruise shuttle route is a slap in the face. Chek 6 News. https://www.cheknews.ca/victoria-businesses-cruise-shuttle-route-sink-them-951897/
 Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. https://gvha.ca/about-gvha/blog/value-of-cruise-tourism-in-victoria-bc/
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