Despite some talk of decreased business and empty storefronts in downtown Victoria, the Downtown Business Association says Victoria’s core is thriving.
“There’s not only businesses staying, but there’s businesses coming downtown,” said Ken Kelly, general manager of the DVBA. “We’re the economic centre of the region. We’ve got more people here within the downtown than there is anywhere else.”
In 2014, within the boundaries of the DVBA, 33 businesses opened, while 22 closed, said Kelly.
Victoria-based Black Press, publisher of Victoria News, Monday Magazine, Boulevard Magazine, Where Magazine, Real Estate Victoria and UsedVictoria.com, is one of the businesses choosing to stay downtown.
On Monday, Black Press moved from the first floor into its new space on the third floor of its downtown building on Broughton Street.
“Black Press and other businesses contribute to the vibrancy of downtown, because being here is a great way for staff to engage with the community,” said Penny Sakamoto, group publisher for Black Press. “They contribute economically and socially by going for lunch at nearby restaurants, or going for walks at the waterfront. The many people that live and work here are what makes it the ideal place to be.”
Elizabeth Dutton, president of UsedEverywhere.com, is also excited to stay downtown Victoria.
“I think to have a vibrant city centre is really important,” said Dutton. “I know there’s a lot of tech companies that are in the downtown core, [and] for us, I wanted to make sure we were a part of that tech community.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, is a supporter of businesses such as Black Press staying downtown.
“I think it’s important for Black Press to be downtown,” said Helps, adding that the city needs to be a good partner to businesses. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to continuously be a good partner so that more businesses stay here and more businesses come here.”
While high rents can be a deterrent for businesses to come downtown, Helps said the growing population of residents downtown is a valuable asset for businesses to consider.
“In the next 30 years, we will have 10,000 more people living downtown,” she said. “Having a prosperous and vibrant downtown is good for Victoria, and it’s also good for every other municipality in the region.”
In addition to the downtown office, Black Press also operates offices in Saanich, Oak Bay, the West Shore, Sidney and Sooke.
Building signage for Black Press’ newly renovated downtown building will be up in the coming months.