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GUEST AUTHOR: Kerri Milton, Executive Director, Downtown Victoria Business Association  (DVBA)

Transportation is a complex and complicated issue in any urban centre. Add in construction demands, increased shopping, increased densification and a city that is growing from a smaller city to a larger Capital City and you have a difficult situation to navigate.

Transportation encompasses all modes of transport, from bikes, to cars, to pedestrians and of course, public transit.  Fixing any one thing in this complex matrix will not solve the problems, but will continue to compound current issues.  Picking apart any one of these pillars is simple to do and not productive for anyone.

The DVBA has been working hard behind the scenes in partnership with other organizations and developers to look at what our businesses need.

What they need is a multi-faceted, complex transportation plan to combat some of the ongoing problems.  Recently, the DVBA sat with the Mayor and key city employees to come up with 28 action items to start sorting out this growing issue. Some action items will take time as we work through the intricacies and develop partnerships with key officials and stakeholders while others are simple.

One of the easiest and most effective solutions is communication. Hence the start of the ongoing conversation you will hear from the DVBA.

·         The DVBA will be producing a map available for public use with all the current parking structures, lots and street parking spaces.
·         We are working on a parking lot which will be “park and ride” for commuters with a short shuttle ride into downtown.
·         We are working with Modo CarShare to produce a program that will work for businesses and help market that Modo is in three of four Downtown parkades.  Interestingly, most people do not know Modo is even here!
·         We are adding traffic counters to bike lanes, yes bike lanes, not the devil, just another mode of transportation for the thousands of new condos, townhouses and homes which are currently under development.
·         We are working with key developers to add public parking space in their new developments and to include things like car share, monthly parking and public parking.
·         We are advocating for better and more effective transit, where applicable, and trying for a faster way into downtown.
Not any one of these items will fix our City’s transportation issues; however, a combination of actions will alleviate the stress some business owners and customers feel when they come Downtown.

Statistics show parkade usage has increased by 47% by those parking for three hours or less. Those are our shoppers, restaurant goers and errand runners and yes they are very much coming into our Downtown.  What an amazing problem to have, that so many people want to come Downtown and be part of the vibrancy of this City.

One final fact, according to the latest Colliers report, retail vacancy has gone from 11% at the end of 2015 to 5.45% at the end of 2016! Our Downtown vacancy rate reduced by half in just one year!

We will continue to strive to help fill those vacancies and in turn find ways for consumers, residents, business owners, commuters and tourists to all live, work and play in our Capital City’s Downtown.

4 comments

  1. Thanks. Kerri’s article says the retail vacancy rate has dropped from 11% to 5.45%. I’m not sure where you’re getting either the 10% or the 4.7% number? I think she got preliminary numbers from Collier’s for end of year 2016. Looks like the report you reference is for earlier in the fall?

  2. ·”We are advocating for better and more effective transit, where applicable, and trying for a faster way into downtown.”

    I took part in the public engagement process organized by BC Transit (Victoria Rapid Transit Project) in 2011. This was their conclusion;

    “When the project first began in late 2008, local government partners and the public agreed to the project goals and objectives: 
    – create an efficient and reliable system. 
LRT was found to have the capacity to achieve the project’s goals, deliver the most long‐term benefits for the Capital Region and had the highest level of community support. ”

    It is now 2017.

    Transportation is a regional issue. For over a decade advocates like myself have been calling for leadership that recognizes that Victoria and the region needs a rail based public transit system connecting communities and one that will build social and economic sustainability for the future.

    Interestingly, it does appear that opposition to the LRT proposal comes from a seemingly quasi business community on Douglas Street which I believe is/was led by Bev Highton. Perhaps the DVBA needs to work a little bit more closely with that group and find out why business is against a public transit system that benefits everyone?

    We need an integrated approach to transportation and the leadership to make it happen.

    Christina Mitchell

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