As physical distancing has become more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, sidewalk space has become more of a premium.

The City of Victoria is now taking steps to get more pedestrian space by temporarily restricting on-street parking in certain areas to allow more room for pedestrians.

The restriction began Thursday in James Bay on Menzies by the Five Corners retail complex and between Government and Oswego streets. The areas are marked by paint, as well as signs.

Other high traffic areas like Vic West, Fairfield, Quadra Village and Cook Street Village will soon have similar restrictions put in place.

But as of now, there are no plans to implement ways to free up sidewalk space downtown.

There’s much more room for pedestrians on those streets, but struggling businesses could welcome the ability to move some operations outside.

“If opening up sidewalk space would allow for restaurants to serve more customers, especially moving into summer, we would be very open to exploring that and very supportive.” said Executive Director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Jeff Bray.

With May 1 looming, being able to pay rent is still a question mark for many businesses in the downtown core.

“Every single restaurant is in serious trouble. I would say every single bar or lounge is in serious trouble.” Bray said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helpssays the idea will at least be considered.

Some provincial restrictions are expected to be lifted in the coming weeks, but for now, there’s no telling if restaurants who are in dire need will be able to increase service levels.

Ben Nesbit