From June 8 to Oct. 31, Government Street between Humboldt and Yates Streets will be single-lane to give pedestrians priority and more space. Between Fort and View Streets, vehicle traffic is not allowed. The initiative is to help businesses in the area affected by COVID-19. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

From June 8 to Oct. 31, Government Street between Humboldt and Yates Streets will be single-lane to give pedestrians priority and more space. Between Fort and View Streets, vehicle traffic is not allowed. The initiative is to help businesses in the area affected by COVID-19. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

POLL: Would you support permanently closing a portion of Government Street to vehicle traffic?

  • Jun. 10, 2020 2:45 p.m.

A move to increase foot traffic is a lifeline thrown to many struggling Victoria businesses.

Government Street between Humboldt and View was transformed this week, with a portion of it becoming single lane traffic to prioritize pedestrians and another portion open to pedestrians only. The initiative is temporary, according to Mayor Lisa Helps, and will run until Oct. 31 before being reassessed.

Helps said the goal is to support businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to facilitate outdoor commercial use, such as allowing restaurants to expand their patios and giving performers and musicians areas to entertain. Pedestrians also have adequate space to physically distance.

ALSO READ: Government Street becomes pedestrian-priority corridor

“This feels like a bold step for Victoria because of decades long conversations about it. But there are other cities around the world that have opened their streets to pedestrians only,” she said. “Other cities have done hundreds of blocks with no cars, we’re doing one block.”

ALSO READ: Victoria City Council votes to ‘pedestrianize’ Beacon Hill Park

The move drew mixed reactions from local merchants. Many support the move as a temporary measure, but are concerned the loss of vehicle traffic will impact older customers, who depend on their vehicle to get around, as well as cut off the shops from the lucrative business from tourists.

“Last summer we stayed open late and as tourists waited to catch their bus, they’d browse,” said Rosa McCormick, manager of Cool as a Moose. “We could lose a lot of money if we’re not able to cater to them.”

The change also leaves couriers and delivery trucks scrambling to access the shops.

Victoria city council will take another look at the issue Oct. 31.

Would you support permanently closing a portion of Government Street to vehicle traffic? Take our poll and voice your opinion.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Sidney staff have cleaned up unknown number of screws dumped along Resthaven Drive. (Black Press Media File)
Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read