The ‘Build Back Victoria’ initiative is about to expire, prompting street vendors on city-owned property to start a petition to make their permits permanent.
The city-wide initiative started in June 2020 and included modifications and exceptions such as flex spaces, temporary patios and pedestrian priority modifications on Government Street.
Most of these rules have been permanently implemented, except for mobile vendors.
Shawn Fitzgerald, a local street vendor who operates a cart in the Hollywood Park area, started a petition asking city council to make mobile vendor permits a permanent part of downtown Victoria.
“We didn’t know the project was ending March 31, so we got a letter on March 1 telling us that on March 31, we’ll have to pack up and be done,” Fitzgerald told CHEK News.
He added that people “just want to be able to walk to something and get something with a personal touch.”
It’s that personal touch that Jacob O’Riain can agree with.
O’Riain owns Off Grid Camper Cafe and typically parks his coffee shop at Clover Point. He moved his business from Port Alberni to B.C.’s capital to increase his business revenue by taking advantage of the city initiative.
“It’s definitely going to be a hit for us, the cost of gas is obviously very high, and that costs a lot out of our pocket … so to be able to have one permanent location is just fantastic for business,” said O’Riain.
Mayor and council are not meeting until April 6 to discuss an extension or any type of permanent permit. Victoria city councillor Matt Dell has been vocal about finding a way to help vendors.
“I think mobile food vendors add a lot to our city. They add vibrancy, they add food services, and they bring people together,” said Dell.
Coun. Dell understands there may be a bit of delay between March 31 and when the permits could come back and hopes that it will not be too impactful for much longer.
The petition is found on Change.org.