Victorians can be cautiously optimistic about economic recovery, says city

Victorians can be cautiously optimistic about economic recovery, says city
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
While construction values are up, pedestrian traffic is down compared to 2019.

The City of Victoria and business leaders are saying Victorians can be cautiously optimistic about economic recovery in the city and downtown as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The city says factors like the issuing of new business licenses (620 in 2021 compared to 600 in 2019), film permits, building permits and construction value are all good signs for economic growth.

“The increase in the number of film permits and value of construction are good indicators of how attractive Greater Victoria is to people wanting to do business here,” said Bruce Williams, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO in a press release Friday. “We see in the data that people are returning to typical activity.

“We also know there is tremendous pent-up demand to visit our region and for locals to get back to dining inside, going to the movies and theatre, and attending concerts and sporting events,” added Williams.

The value of construction hit a peak in March of 2021 at $73.7 million, however, dropped to $34.48 million in April, matching the value in April 2019.

Building permit applications were at 394 over the same period, compared to 331 in 2020.

The numbers of pedestrians in the downtown area, however, are still down from what they were in April of 2019 and 2020. Between February and April 2021, a total of 1,947,518 people were recorded by counters, whereas 2,746,796 were recorded in 2020 and 4,657,218 were recorded in 2019.

While pedestrian numbers are down, cyclist numbers are up with a total of 154,374 over February, March and April 2021 compared to 138,024 over the same time period in 2019.

“The data really shows there are thousands of people coming into downtown everyday.” Says Jeff Bray, Downtown Victoria’s Business Association Executive Director. “They’re shopping, dining, working, really enjoying one of the best mid-sized downtown’s in North America.” Added Bray.

Parking numbers are below what they were in 2019 and below what they were in February 2020. A total of 527,496 on-street parking transactions were recorded between February, March and April this year compared to 632,104 in 2019. Although, transactions at ParkVictoria are up comparatively from 2020 (264,696 in 2021 compared to 178,844 in 2020).

The city says they plan to release data over the next years to keep track of Victoria’s economic recovery.

“There’s kind of a pent up demand for real life and Victoria has a lot of real life to offer.” Says Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps.

For more information on the economic recovery dashboard, visit

READ MORE: Economy lost 68,000 jobs in May, unemployment rate 8.2%, Statistics Canada says

Justin WaddellJustin Waddell

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