DVBA report: 20% of downtown businesses give Victoria a failing grade

DVBA report: 20% of downtown businesses give Victoria a failing grade

Wednesday was another busy day at The Dutch Bakery and Diner in downtown Victoria.

A fixture on Fort Street since Michele Bryne’s family opened it in 1955, she’s seen the downtown go through many changes.

“It’s not as easy as it used to be I think. People do get frustrated with that easily,” said Bryne.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) released its 2024 report, which suggests downtown is rebounding after a difficult few years through the pandemic.

According to the report, traffic is busier than ever, fewer storefronts are vacant, and the tourism sector is rebounding.

The DVBA surveyed its members and found there were five per cent more licenses issued to new businesses in 2023 than the previous year.

It also found that 66 per cent of the people shopping downtown are locals from within the Capital Region.

However, the DVBA report found that 20 per cent of local businesses situated downtown would give it a failing grade, with some of the concerns related to the availability and cost of parking.

“Parking has always been a nightmare, let’s face it,” said Bryne.

“The city has changed the way they do the parkade…they have a one-hour free parking in the basement, which is great if you are doing just a quick errand. And the rest is all metered. But it’s a meter. There is no more person there.”

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According to Jeff Bray, DVBA executive director, there are also ongoing concerns around public safety.

“Sixty-eight per cent of our businesses have identified either some increase or significant increase in the negative impacts of street disorder on their business,” said Bray.

Grace Lore, the NDP MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, said the province is working to build hundreds of supportive housing units.

“I think from our perspective of the provincial government, what it looks like to support and invest in downtown is the new supportive housing units that are coming so that folks have a place to be,” said Lore.

Insp. Grant Hamilton with Victoria Police says the department is also working on solutions.

“Last year, we were able to do a lot of foot patrols that supported the business community. So we’re going to do more of that in the summer as well,” said Hamilton.

Back at The Dutch Bakery, Bryne says the downtown is open for business. “Come down and see us. We are not that scary,” she added.

Now, the push is on to convince people they can do that easily and safely.

WATCH MORE: Decades-old salon moves from downtown Victoria as new occupancy reports are released

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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