Committing to Multi-Modal Downtowns
Downtown Victoria needs to remain accessible for people of all ages and abilities - including those who drive.
The city is building bike lanes designed to accommodate all ages and abilities. The same approach needs to be applied to the downtown as a whole.
To keep parking free and accessible in its downtown the City of Langford is buying residential properties and turning them into parking lots. Langford's justification for doing this? Local businesses pay three times the residential tax rate - or more in some municipalities - and provide 35% of Langford's income. "We're just going to reinvest it to make the economy strong in the downtown core," City of Langford Mayor Stew Young said in a Times Colonist
That's the same approach Victoria took forty years ago when it built five parkades, but they are no longer adequate to fill the demand.
"Loss of parking in downtown Victoria due to construction on former parking lots is an issue we hear about from our members constantly,"
said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "
Many of our members would like to see investment in more parking to keep Victoria's downtown functional."
Recent development of parking lots into residential construction has eaten up parking spaces but there are benefits.
"Yes parking is an issue we need to address - it's top of mind and we're looking for solutions - though there are no short term fixes," says City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. "But also loss of parking has turned into thousands of new customers living in the downtown, it's reducing downtown vacancies, and it's seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in the city."
Downtowns need to be multi-modal accessible. The Chamber would like to see a plan from the city to ensure that. Ideally it would include partnerships between the city and the private sector. For example, how about a public private partnership to build and operate a parkade at the Save On Food Memorial Arena?