The relocation of a large government-contracted insurance firm in downtown Victoria has local businesses worried.
Currently, about 500 people work in the downtown office at 716 Yates Street, but with the government contract changing hands the office is being relocated to Central Saanich.
The contracted work for Health Insurance BC (HIBC) has been done at the office on Yates Street since 2005. However, recently MAXIMUS lost the contract and it was awarded to be overseen by Pacific Blue Cross. Part of that change includes relocating to a new office at the Gateway Tech Park in Central Saanich, a space Pacific Blue Cross took possession of back in December.
Mandy Woytkaw says she’s nervous that more office workers in Victoria are moving away, which could mean fewer customers coming to her restaurant, Frickin’ Delights Donuts.
“We are definitely relying on our lunch crowd,” she said. “We do a small lunch menu but our main bread and butter is donuts, but I think anytime that number of people leaves — it’s going to have an impact.”
People like Woytkaw don’t want to see office workers leave and there are others like her, but not everyone is upset about the relocation.
Central Saanich’s Mayor, Ryan Windsor says he’s happy to welcome the 500 workers to his community.
“Well it’s obviously very positive when a significant employer decides to relocate to your area,” Windsor said. “It’s positive and I think there is going to be a lot of benefits.”
Despite this move being the latest blow to the local economy, it shouldn’t have a major impact. A recent Colliers Canada office market report shows that vacancy rates in downtown Victoria are actually lower than they were in 2021, down a single percentile, to 5.6 per cent.