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

Just Posted

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Pacific sand dollars are a local species which belong to the same group as sea urchins. While alive, they are covered entirely by thousands of densely packed, short and slender spikes. (Photo courtesy of Louise Page)
The peculiar life of a Pacific sand dollar

UVic biology professor Louise Page offers a glace into sand dollars’ world under the water

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read