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Victoria touts spring economic figures after events returned to the city

City seeing more people downtown than in second quarter of 2021
Victoria saw an uptick in its economic figures as events returned in the spring of 2022. Pictured is the Phillips Backyard music festival. (Colin Smith Takes Pics)

The City of Victoria is celebrating its second-quarter economic figures as some markers show improvement from pre-pandemic years.

From April through June, the city saw a 38 per cent increase in the number of pedestrians counted downtown compared to that period in 2021, while those strolling along Government Street nearly doubled.

“The new figures help us see clearly the economic recovery we’ve all been feeling this spring and early summer,” Mayor Lisa Helps said in a news release. “With a huge rebound in community events and a strong tourism season, people are flooding back downtown. This is a huge boost for small businesses, the people they employ and everyone building back from the impacts of the pandemic.”

While more people flocked downtown this spring compared to the previous two pandemic years, the second quarter of 2022 still trailed 2019 numbers by 2.5 million visitors.

As restrictions were dropped and the pandemic’s impact on the health system eased, community events came booming back for an eager public looking to get out again. There were 78 event permits issued in the three-month stretch this year compared to just eight during the same time in 2021.

Hotel occupancy climbed about 43 per cent in the second quarter of this year, which is on par with 2019 levels.

The city pointed to other recovery signs, like a 23 per cent jump in on-street parking spots being bought and more than 150 business licences issued compared to Q2 of the last pre-pandemic year.

Building permit applications were just shy of last year’s figure and construction values surpassed pre-pandemic levels by $123 million.

Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said with October being Small Business Month, there’s no better time to show gratitude to entrepreneurs and organizations creating jobs or providing essential goods.

“When you shop at businesses deeply connected to our community you’re investing in your neighbours, friends, family and fellow local taxpayers,” he said. “They are the people who make our region a great place to work, live and raise a family.”

Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Great Victoria, also encouraged people to shop local.

“Our amazing restaurants and attractions are what make Victoria such a unique destination, and they certainly contributed to our strong summer visitor numbers.”

As the region had a notably cold and dreary spring, fewer riders biked over a Harbour Road counter located on the Galloping Goose trail in April and May. But as the warm weather returned, slightly more people cycled along the trail stretch this June compared to last.

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