Despite an outcry from some business owners on Government Street in downtown Victoria, cruise-ship buses will not be driving past their shops this season.
Victoria city council made that decision on Thursday, keeping the pedestrian-priority corridor in the city’s lower Government Street long-term.
But councillors Stephen Andrew and Geoff Young don’t think it’s a good idea.
They brought forward a motion forward asking council to reconsider for at least for this year, but it was denied.
“It’s a shame,” said Andrew. “We haven’t has cruise passengers for two years, so how anybody on council can just sit there and say this is a good plan when they don’t know what the outcome is going to be boggles my mind.”
Julie Renvoize, the store manager of Out of Ireland, was also disappointed when she found out about the change.
Her store and many other establishments in the area rely on the boost in business during the bustling summer months.
“The cruise ships are an integral part of our business, obviously during the summer,” Renvoize said.
‘We are grateful to having the local people that support us throughout the whole year, but we are quiet from January through to April until cruise ships start rolling in,” she continued.
Instead of the old route along Belleville, past the Inner Harbour and the Empress and its usual stop on Government at Fort, the new shuttle route will take cruise passengers on a longer route along Blanshard Street, stopping higher up on Government near Yates Street.
“Many local have spent more time on Government Street than they ever have before in their lives,” said Victoria mayor Lisa Helps.
“So, if we keep that pedestrian-priority feeling, it’ll be something for people coming in those cruise-ship buses to go and see and do,” she continued.
But Renvoize isn’t so sure as many stores are struggling trying to survive this quiet period.
She said what may appear as a small 140-metre move can have great impact on businesses as passengers from cruise-ship buses have time and travel restraints.
“They don’t tend to walk that far. There are people with wheelchairs, eldery that tend to go on cruises,” she said.
“I’m not saying that they’re the only ones that go on cruises, but they don’t tend to stray too far and there are time limitations on how long they’re here for,” she added.
With cruise season underway in less than two months, the mayor is certain the success of the pedestrian-prioritized corridor will translate with travelers.
“We know what works and we know what the locals love. And generally, the tourists want to see what are the locals doing. So, they’ll get off the bus, they’ll walk down to the pedestrian-oriented Government Street and they’ll spend time there and probably wander into some shops as well.”