Victoria sees signs of economic recovery with surge in film, building permits
Downtown Victoria is seen from Mt. Tolmie in this file photo. (CTV)
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria says it's cautiously optimistic about the municipality's economic recovery as B.C.'s COVID-19 reopening plan continues.
While downtown visits and the number of new business licences issued in Victoria plummeted in 2020 during the pandemic, those sectors are beginning to trend upwards once again, or even exceed the same months in 2019 and early 2020 before the pandemic began.
The city says it considers the number of new business licences it approves an indicator of community confidence in the economy. Between February and April 2019, the city issued 600 new business licences. During the same time this year, the city issued 620.
Meanwhile, the number of film permits the city has issued has skyrocketed in 2021.
From January to April in 2020, before the pandemic was declared, the city issued 15 film permits. During that same time period in 2021, the city issued 58.
Earlier this week, the Vancouver Island Construction Association told CTV News there was a construction boom happening across the South Island, with the association predicting a 30 per cent increase in building permits issued this year over 2020.
The association says it anticipates a record year, and Victoria city staff say the current pace of major development applications in the first six months of 2021 is the highest they have ever seen.
"The increase in the number of film permits and the value of construction are good indicators of how attractive Greater Victoria is to people wanting to do business here," said Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams in a release Friday.
"We see in the data that people are generally returning to typical activity," he said.
As restrictions continue to ease in B.C., the city will be keeping an eye on pedestrian counts in the downtown care and hotel occupancy, which are both still well below total counts in 2019, before the pandemic began.