Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. (rickcollinsphotography.com)

Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. (rickcollinsphotography.com)

COLUMN: Office workers integral to Victoria economy

Jeff Bray

Downtown Victoria Business Association

Last month I wrote about the gradual reopening of our retail and restaurant sectors. It was a period of learning – for both customers and operators – about navigating the guidelines, rules and etiquette of Phase 2 and Phase 3.

I am happy to report that this process went smoothly. Each week, we are seeing more people coming downtown and enjoying the new patios, and re-engaging with all the unique shops we host.

ALSO READ: COLUMN: Downtown Victoria welcomes you back

However, as I mentioned last month, the ultimate success of our small and medium businesses this year will rely on office workers – public-sector workers in particular – returning to their offices.

Downtown, office workers buy coffees and snacks, go out for lunch, purchase gifts for themselves and their loved ones, see their massage therapists or hairdressers, etc. These office workers are integral to the local economy, especially outside tourism season.

I cannot stress this enough: this year many businesses’ survival will depend on these downtown office workers.

The provincial government has shown great leadership in modelling the guidelines set by Dr. Bonnie Henry and WorkSafeBC. Most of the employees of the B.C. ministries and Crown corporations continued to work through the pandemic, albeit mostly from home. This was a major part of our successes here on Vancouver Island to controlling the spread of COVID.

Now, we need public-sector employees to lead the way and return to their offices. Of course, for some there will be considerations of childcare or family members with compromised health where working from home remains the best choice. But for many, a safe return to offices is possible. In turn, this leadership can model how private sector offices can also safely return to their offices.

ALSO READ: COLUMN: Every little bit counts as businesses face ‘devastating’ time

Our local economy will rely almost exclusively on local purchases. That means foot traffic and purposeful buying decisions are key. Evenings and weekends can entice residents from Sooke to Sidney, but during the weekday, it is office workers that fill the void. Those of us who have been fortunate to work throughout the pandemic will play role in helping our small and medium sized businesses survive until we reach Phase 4 reopening.

Downtown is ready to welcome you back.

Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

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

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, Seed and Stone’s development agent, holds products from the Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

VicPD asks anyone who sees Daniel Shumka, or with information on his whereabouts to call 250-995-7654 or report anonymously through Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. (Courtesy VicPD)
Victoria police seek man wanted on drug trafficking charges

Daniel Shumka, 50, is 6’1” and about 195 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes

Victoria police arrested three men following a double stabbing April 19. The two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Three arrested after double stabbing in Victoria

Two people sent to hospital after being stabbed, hit with bear spray

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Most Read