Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria plans 10-hour closures of Government Street come June

City’s business relief plan extended, Government St. from Humboldt to View closed noon to 10 p.m.

Ten-hour daily closures of Government Street to motor vehicle traffic, between Humboldt and View streets, is a key element in the City of Victoria’s pandemic recovery assistance program for 2021.

As part of the support of downtown businesses, in the wake of the indoor dining ban and beyond, Victoria council approved a plan to extend the Business Recovery from Pandemic Bylaw – branded as Build Back Victoria – past its planned end date of Oct. 31 and continue to monitor the results.

The use of public space for private uses, including relaxing rules around using sidewalks for seating space for restaurants, pubs and other food primary businesses, has been central to the program. Most councillors agreed the move has added vibrancy to downtown streetscapes, with more than one saying the patios give the area a more European flavour.

RELATED STORY: Success of Broad Street closure prompts more permanent version in Victoria

“Thank you, I can’t wait for the summer,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. She was already thinking ahead, noting aloud that the city and Downtown Victoria Business Association could team up for a Patio Fest event to promote outdoor dining on the slowest night of the week.

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to motor vehicles between noon and 10 p.m. daily, but open to pedestrians and northbound horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and pedicabs. The corridor has been the most visible area downtown of the city’s allowance to place patios on sidewalks, and the increase of pedestrian space to allow for distancing during the pandemic.

The opening hours of 10 p.m. to noon will allow for emergency vehicles and morning deliveries and commuters. Cross streets are not affected.

While he voiced appreciation for how the streetscape changes have livened up the downtown, Coun. Ben Isitt cautioned that post-pandemic, the city will need to land on an appropriate balance between commercial interests and public interests. He also worried that the ability to use public space at no charge could give businesses that have taken advantage of the Build Back Victoria program somewhat of an unfair advantage.

RELATED STORY: City seeks input on reimagining Victoria public spaces during COVID-19

Coun. Stephen Andrew said it’s going to take several years for some of these businesses to recover the losses of the past 12 to 18 months.

“I would like to see this go on and on. Yes, we may have to look at the future use of public space, but I would like to see this continue,” he said. “To me, it makes downtown look fantastic and exciting.”

The discussion also included a recommendation that staff to ensure all businesses serving on patios have their washrooms open to patrons, and those adding a smaller outdoor space ensure those spaces are fully accessible for people with mobility challenges by July 1.

The city also plans further pedestrian friendly and public seating enhancements along Government Street as part of the spring and summer program.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of VictoriaDininglocal business

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

Just Posted

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Architect’s rendering of the 7 Erskine Lane development, showing the view from the east and south. (VDA Architecture Ltd. image)
View Royal green-lights residential development on Erskine Lane

First of two developments near Victoria General Hospital will provide 71 housing units

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read