Newspaper boxes will remain on the streets of Victoria, at least in some will.
Jeff Bray, the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, says a plan has been developed to allow some newspaper boxes to remain on city streets without a permit being required.
“I believe we have come up with a workable plan that will keep the benefits of these publications being freely available to the public will reducing the overall number of boxes and their appearance,” Bray wrote in a letter to city council and staff dated Aug. 31.
Bray’s letter comes weeks after city council considered and ultimately deferred a motion calling on the removal of newspaper boxes.
Ironically, that motion came after Bray had written a letter to city staff urging them to remove the boxes because they take up valuable sidewalk space during the COVID-19 pandemic and are frequently vandalized.
But in his most recent letter, Bray says the plan will result in some boxes being removed and others remaining.
It also includes community news publisher, Black Press, joining the DVBA as an associate member and helping maintain their own newspaper boxes.
“Together, we will work to maintain the appearance of 10 boxes they currently operate within our boundaries on public property,” Bray said.
The DVBA’s “clean team” will remove graffiti from boxes while Black Press will be responsible for maintaining the appearance of their boxes.
Furthermore, according to Bray, 30 boxes will be removed immediately at no charge to the DVBA.
The letter also suggests that the number of boxes will be limited in “any one spot” which will free up “valuable” sidewalk space.
Under the plan, the DVBA will monitor the situation to see if the plan does indeed “improve the streetscape” over the next few months.
With a plan in place, Bray tells council he’s supportive of their plan to withdraw a motion calling on the boxes to be outright removed.