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City develops resources for recovery through Downtown Victoria Business Association

Ambassadors, clean committee bolster confidence in safe downtown
The DVBA keeps more than 200 containers of a variety of shades of paint in its stores at the ready to cover graffiti as it appears. (Courtesy Downtown Victoria Business Association)

Victoria’s economic action plan – Victoria 3.0 Recover Reinvention Resilience – aims to keep the core business area clean and accessible.

A series of programs rose for downtown after businesses closed due to the pandemic saw an increase in crime, graffiti and the need for additional cleaning.

In January 2021, city staff started working with the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) to explore options to support the vibrancy and vitality of downtown and to address the impacts of vandalism. In February, staff presented council with a report outlining services that could be provided in partnership with the DVBA including funding $60,000 for a program to fix vandalized windows, doors or locks and help facilitate quick repairs. Another $40,000 would establish a local business and resident block watch program in partnership with the Downtown Residents Association (DRA) to create a downtown clean and safe committee as well as a downtown ambassador program.

The clean committee helps business owners and ensures downtown is safe and welcoming for staff and visitors, while the ambassadors offer a visible and welcoming presence, increasing the sense of safety.

Late 2021 marked the inaugural meeting for the downtown clean and safe committee made up of members of the DVBA, VicPD, DRA, city staff and local businesses.

READ ALSO: Saanich sees spike in graffiti during pandemic

The DVBA will also hire a co-op student to manage the Good Neighbour Program, which received $20,000 for staffing, website creation and database management. The program, with businesses, residents, city staff and other groups working together, will focus on beautification and safety.

One initiative will coordinate with VicPD, community organizations and block captains to introduce clear procedures on how to report various issues, such as a crack in the sidewalk, graffiti, broken windows or stolen items.

Another initiative is a scrub-up event, bringing together police, fire, landlords and others to tidy streets, buildings, windows, parking meters, and anything in the public realm.

City council also approved a $60,000 grant for a program administered by the DVBA to support businesses that sustained damage to their windows, doors or locks due to vandalism or break-ins to allow for prompt repairs.

The weekend Clean Team was also allocated $20,000 for three new staff and supplies. The DVBA plans to expand its Clean Team service during the summer months to ensure the cleanliness of downtown which will include weekend coverage through to September.