VICTORIA -- Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is planning to propose a motion to have city staff work closely with the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) to strategize ways to support local businesses, one day after a series of businesses were damaged by vandalism.

On Wednesday, Victoria police said a man had been arrested for damaging windows at 14 Victoria businesses, causing thousands of dollars in damages. The same man is believed to have stolen a Victoria Harbour Ferry just one day before.

Helps says that grant funding for businesses that have suffered vandalism damage is one way that the city could help local store owners.

She notes that last year, the city provided the DVBA with a $20,000 grant to help remove graffiti from downtown businesses and buildings.

Helps says that DVBA executive director Jeff Bray contacted the mayor Wednesday saying that the DVBA could organize and distribute potential grants to local businesses that suffer vandalism.

“In weeks previous, downtown businesses have also been targeted by professional criminals who remove glass and then steal from the businesses,” reads Helps’ motion.

“While the police continue their work, our small businesses, already hit hard economically and emotionally by the pandemic, are left with the repair bills or insurance deductibles.”

Helps says that grants could be one way to assist local businesses through the pandemic. She notes the city may have other options available, however, and recommends that city staff “work with the DVBA and report back to council on options to support the vibrancy of the viability of the downtown and to address the impacts of vandalism.”

The motion will be discussed by city council Thursday.