Fewer and fewer cars downtown, yet increased congestion and longer travel times. Hrm… I wonder how that happened!
While poor urban planning and bike lanes are certainly to blame for a share of this decrease, they are not the only factors. Downtown Victoria is becoming less desirable every year. Commercial property taxes being 3.5 times greater than an equivalent residential property, coupled with the regular removal of parking spaces downtown has created a climate where businesses don’t want to be downtown and customers don’t want to either.
The commercial vacancy rate for downtown storefronts peaked in 2014 at 10-11% and thankfully has been on the way down recently. However, if council continues making decisions that further exacerbate the congestion problems and remain on track to have eliminated 1,500 parking spaces between 2010 and 2020 then that vacancy rate will go back up.
Downtown revitalization needs to be one of the top priorities of this City Council, and I’m just not seeing any actions being taken in the right direction.