Government Street merchants say shuttle bus relocation hurts bottom line

Government Street merchants say shuttle bus relocation hurts bottom line

Dozens of cruise ship passengers get off shuttle buses on Government Street, unaware that the drop-off point used to be two blocks south, but business owners say the change has had impacts on their bottom line.

A segment of Government Street is now pedestrian only from noon until 10 p.m., meaning the shuttle buses with their cruise passengers had to be moved further up Government.

“My sales are down 20 per cent,” said Klera Zakreski, owner of Artina’s Jewellery. “I still didn’t get my business that I was supposed to have, and I’m struggling. I’m struggling.”

Tourists that CHEK News spoke with seemed unphased by the change in drop-off location and had plans varying from wandering to the Inner Harbour, and many mentioned walking up to Chinatown.

It’s part of a change to integrate pedestrian and bike-friendly streets.

Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association said over the past few years there have been many changes.

“Whenever you do any kind of active mobility infrastructure there are trade-offs,” Bray said. “And I think what some of our members are saying is the trade-offs are getting too far ahead of the benefits.”

Bray says there is a solution.

“Our position has always been with Government Street is that there should always be one lane of traffic open 24 hours a day,” he said.

The association says similar closures on Broad Street, and Gladstone in the Fernwood neighbourhood have been a success but the Government Street closure needs a re-think.

For Alexya Skrlac, owner of Oh Gelato and Victoria Ice Cream, if things don’t pick up, it may be time to re-locate.

“We don’t know what the next year is going to do for us,” Skrlac said. “And to give it one year, and maybe find another location, maybe we just close it up.

After more than two years of a pandemic, the hope was this summer would bring a renewal, and hope.

But the reality is sinking in for some businesses that it may be time to move on.

WATCH: Victoria’s Government Street pedestrian priority zone is here to stay for the long haul

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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