Victoria mayor seeks economic resurrection downtown

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins are looking into ways to spur economic development in their communities.

Esquimalt and Victoria are eyeing major plans to spur on economic development.

Following the lead of Langford, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is considering tax exemptions for property owners downtown, while Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said Esquimalt is ahead of the curve.

Esquimalt is looking into policy options to encourage business and new development align Esquimalt Road, she said.

“We completed our economic development strategy last fall, and one of the things that has been identified and is already being worked on is that tax revitalization strategy for Esquimalt Road.”

Desjardins said there is not a clearly defined plan yet, but it could involve a combination of tax deferrals and fee reductions.

“Those are the things that are within our powers, and so those are the things that we’re looking at,” she said. “Within the community charter, there’s only so much we can do.”

Esquimalt council has already discussed what a future policy might look like, and decisions will be made from budget discussions in February and March, said Desjardins.

“We’re hearing very clearly that Esquimalt Road needs an upgrade. There needs to be an attraction of new people to the community,” she said. “You need more people in order to provide more opportunity for more business.”

Besides looking into tax exemptions for property owners, Helps said she would also like to look into simpler strategies such as improving public spaces downtown.

“I think we need to work with the [Downtown Victoria Business Association] and others to say, what capital expenditures could the city make that would have a big difference in making the public realm more welcoming, more vibrant,” said Helps.

“I think we can make some small changes that have a big impact while we’re looking for those longer term, more complicated things like tax exemptions.”

While her initial feeling is to start with a revitalization of Government Street, Helps said that is not her only focus.

“I shared one idea, which became the idea, which is never the intention,” she said, of her plan to look at tax exemptions on Government Street.

“I’m going to look to our staff and business leaders and community leaders in the downtown to say, what are the areas that need the most care and attention?”

No matter what area council decides to focus on, Helps said a plan needs to be put in place to stimulate economic revitalization in the city.

“One of the things I’m not going to be ok with is if we just sit around and talk about it forever,” she said. “Now is the time for taking action to create prosperity in our downtown.”






Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Victoria Police Department, some of whom are shown here observing a moment of silence for victims of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, experience stress and potential trauma more than most other workers, says Chief Const. Del Manak. While the number of shifts lost at VicPD are soaring, he sees it as a sign people are taking their own health and wellness seriously. (Black Press Media file photo)
Skyrocketing number of lost shifts at Victoria police has a positive side, chief says

Chief Const. Del Manak says officers, staff being more proactive looking after their mental health

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested after stealing water taxi, racing it up Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head inmates in Metchosin receive their first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read