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.