Downtown Victoria has received a B+ grade in the first report by the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

The association sent a survey to more than 1,100 of its members and received 400 responses. They gave the city a B+ as a place to do business.

According to the association, high tech companies are a real growth area, with more than 1,000 firms expected to in business by 2020.

Entrepreneur Haibin Ren started his business just two months ago in downtown Victoria. He runs “Language Choice,” which translates online games. But he’s also part of the thriving local business, “Escape Warriors”, where customers try to escape these rooms.

“This is our, one of our escape rooms.  It’s a partnership,” Ren explains.

After working for the United Nations in Thailand, he decided to relocate to Victoria.

“Downtown Victoria is very unique. It’s a small city but you see the capital of the province. So, the major ministry organizations are located here,” Ren said.

“Our members see downtown very positively. Things are going very well, and our job is to make sure that we keep it moving forward,” Jeff Bray, the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA)

There were issues noted in the report though. Number one on everyone’s list is parking, or the lack of it, according to locals.

“Our members have identified that the four main issues; parking availability, costs, and a lack of safety and security downtown, and perception from the public that downtown is unclean,” Bray said.

More than a quarter of local businesses want to expand over the next two years, so keeping the streets clean is a priority. With 15 properties under construction for a total of 1,700 rental and condo units, that’s good news for life in the city.

“Some of your good customers live above you. And that’s the trend we’re seeing in Victoria and across North America. And that’s what’s part of driving the stability and the growth of downtown. More of your customers are here after five o’clock. And that changes your business mix,” Bray said.

In the meantime, local businesses, like Ren’s, are banking on the future of this city.

“I think Victoria, downtown Victoria is vivid neighbourhood,” Ren said.

Mary Griffin