While business owners are generally happy with the state of downtown Victoria in 2019, vehicle parking and overall safety remain top concerns for local entrepreneurs.
According to the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s (DVBA) inaugural annual report, the organization found that most businesses owners saw steady business or growth, with over a quarter reporting plans to expand.
In total, 67% of survey respondents said that their business had improved or remained stable, while 25% said that they had experienced a growth in net profits between 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the number of business licenses issued by the city rose significantly over the past three years, up from 1,450 distributed in 2015 to 2,050 in 2018.
Not all is well, however, as the vast majority of downtown entrepreneurs still reported that parking issues and downtown safety negatively impacted their livelihoods.
When asked about factors that negatively impact business, 78.8% of respondents said that parking availability was a major concern, while the cost of parking and overall safety ranked the second and third highest issues, respectively.
Downtown Victoria has approximately 6,793 parking stalls available for daily use, with approximately two-thirds coming from public parkade and street parking while one-third is comprised of private lot parking.
The number has shrunk recently, however, as the DVBA estimates that nearly 1,800 parking stalls have been lost due to streetside development over the past four years.
- This weekend marks the end of free Sunday street parking in downtown Victoria
- Mayor Stew Young begins adding more parking lots in downtown Langford
Meanwhile, approximately a third of downtown entrepreneurs are concerned about how general safety may affect their businesses.
According to the DVBA, cases of graffiti vandalism and drug paraphernalia nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018.
In 2018, the business association recorded 10,445 instances of graffiti, up from 6,402 cases in 2017. Meanwhile, instances of drug paraphernalia needing to be removed reached a total of 6,696 times in 2018, up from 3,251 in 2017.
While local business owners noted parking and safety concerns, the majority are still pleased with how downtown Victoria is developing.
“When we asked our members which elements would most improve the business
environment downtown, they prioritized safety and security, parking availability and
increased transit options, and cleanliness,” reads the report.
“Do we have challenges downtown; yes. However, we have a downtown that is the
envy of many, and we should feel free to celebrate this.”