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Parking availability, safety among top concerns for downtown Victoria businesses: report

Victoria -

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) has just released its third annual "report on downtown," which collects input from local businesses.

While businesses suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report found "the resiliency of Victoria’s downtown businesses was stronger than many other downtowns in North America," according to the DVBA.

The business association says that local customer support, changes in business models – such as pivoting to e-commerce services, delivery, or takeout services – helped downtown businesses survive during the pandemic.

Businesses that were surveyed also cited government support programs as helping them through the pandemic.

Moving forward, the top three concerns that downtown businesses face are a lack of parking, safety and security concerns, and "perception of a clean downtown," according to survey responses.

The DVBA says that the average business surveyed spent approximately 62 per cent more on security measures in 2020 compared to 2019.

"With regards to the cleanliness and safety of downtown, the overwhelming perception from survey respondents in both the statistical and anecdotal responses, was that the situation had worsened compared with the year before," reads the DVBA report.

"With a sparsely populated downtown due to work from home policies as well as the lack of tourists, vandalism and other criminal activity certainly became more visible, especially to business owners struggling to keep their doors open and customers engaged."

The business association notes that it's difficult to measure exactly how the pandemic affected businesses.

The DVBA cites a lack of tourism, a large transition of downtown office workers switching to remote work, and the mental health toll that business owners faced under a flurry of changing COVID-19 restrictions as being impacts of the pandemic.

When asked how profit changed from 2019 to 2020, approximately 68.22 per cent of surveyed businesses told the DVBA they had a reduction in profits, while 12.24 per cent said they had no change, and 19.53 per cent said they had profit growth.

The report also highlighted positive aspects of the downtown business community.

More than one-third of surveyed businesses, 36.3 per cent, said they have been in business in Victoria for more than 20 years.

A whopping 85 per cent said they also contributed to community organizations regularly, with 16 per cent contributing at least $5,000 in cash or in-kind donations every year.

The DVBA also noted that 54.5 per cent of businesses owners identified as female, with the business association saying that it's paying particular attention to diversity into the downtown community.

"This report identifies some challenges faced by downtown businesses," said DVBA executive director Jeff Bray in a statement Tuesday. "But it also highlights the tremendous resiliency of our business community; and illustrates the success of our community’s dedication to supporting local."

The DVBA's full report can be found here. Top Stories

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