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Victoria approves closing streets, converting parking to patio spaces amid COVID-19 recovery
VICTORIA -- Updated:
The City of Victoria has approved a proposal that will see significant changes to the municipality’s streets to help support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Victoria is taking bold steps to expand outdoor spaces for public and commercial use.
The changes will include converting on-street parking to patio or sidewalk areas, creating new parking zones for food trucks and temporarily closing a section of Government Street to traffic.
One block of Government Street, between Fort Street and View Street, will be closed to traffic except for emergency vehicles and delivery trucks to prioritize pedestrian use.
Meanwhile, some on-street parking will be converted to patios or sidewalk space.
The city says that it will continue to monitor the infrastructure changes to ensure that accessibility, short-term parking and city revenue are not negatively affected.
The city adds that designated mobile food vendor zones will be established to support food trucks and bike vendors amid the pandemic.
Further information on the now-approved changes can be found below.
The City of Victoria is considering making significant changes to some of its municipal infrastructure to help support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proposed changes include converting on-street parking to patio or sidewalk areas, creating new zones for food trucks and temporarily closing streets to traffic for pedestrian use.
One of the most dramatic proposals, which could come into effect as early as June 8, is restricting traffic along sections of Government Street.
City officials and community members have long-considered converting parts of the downtown street to pedestrian-only spaces, and now the city’s proposal could see a full closure on Government Street between Fort Street and View Street, and single-lane closures on two adjacent blocks.
The city is also considering converting sidewalks and on-street parking to patio or extended walking spaces.
The extra space would allow restaurants and businesses to increase their seating while abiding by physical distancing guidelines and would allow pedestrians to give each other more space while passing each other.
The city says in its proposal that it will take into account the need for commercial loading and unloading, short-term street parking and city revenue. The municipality will also focus on accessibility and may make changes to some of its “flexible zones” as the program rolls out, if approved.
Meanwhile, Victoria is considering creating dedicated stalls for food trucks and bicycle vendors to park in during the pandemic.
Both industries, which rely on summer events like music festivals for revenue, have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The city is looking at creating dedicated parking areas that can be reserved by a mobile vendor for two weeks at a time. The two-week limit is being proposed to ensure there is diversity and turn over at these parking locations.
The proposal says that the parking zones would be set at a minimum distance from other brick and mortar restaurants.
“The city is proposing practical, achievable and expedited temporary solutions to allow businesses to use public spaces,” reads the proposal from city staff.
“Our goal is to balance different needs while maintaining Provincial Health guidelines, road safety, accessibility and liveability for our community.”
Victoria city council is set to review the proposals at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday. If approved, changes would come into effect on Monday, June 8.
If proposals are approved, the city says that it will focus on informing the community and local businesses about the changes. The city will hold an “educate first” philosophy, but still has the ability to rescind permits if required.
Any changes will be communicated through the city’s website, social media channels, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Victoria Business Association. Any approved proposals would then be monitored and enforced by city bylaw services and parking services.