The City of Victoria is highlighting local economic action to start the year despite the impact of the Omicron wave’s impacts.
The first quarter of this year saw 300,000 more pedestrians making a trip to Victoria’s downtown compared to the same timeframe in 2021. There were also 45,000 more street parking purchases to start 2022 compared to last year.
Those signal how the city emerged from “the dark days of Omicron,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
“These numbers tell the story of our ongoing recovery as more workers return to downtown, the visitor economy revs up, and investor confidence in construction shows no sign of abating,” Helps said in a Thursday release. “There is still some way to go yet before we are back to where we were before the pandemic, but all signs point to better times ahead for local businesses.”
Local hotels were fuller to start this year compared to the first three months of 2021. The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s CEO said the region is ready to take flight as tourism returns.
“These indicators make it clear that people can’t wait to get back to our vibrant downtown and enjoy all the amazing experiences our businesses provide,” Bruce Williams said.
The value of new residential and commercial construction jumped well above pre-pandemic levels, with $168 million in quarter one topping the 2019 amount of $64 million.
Film, event and business permits all saw an increase from 2021’s first quarter. While businesses usually renew their licences in the initial months of the year, the start of 2022 beat the last pre-pandemic year (2019) in terms of licences issued.
Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the numbers show the downtown’s vibrancy and resilience.
“These numbers are very strong, and this is in advance of the tourism season and the full return of office workers to the downtown core,” he said. “This signals a very strong summer and fall for businesses in and around downtown.”
According to the city’s data and based off of pre-pandemic levels, about one in three people have returned to the office.
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