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Consulting is an important part of the process

by Kerri Milton

Today, approximately 40 Fort Street business owners came to the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s office to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed biking network. Business owners brought up great questions as to how the driveways would work, what are the timelines, how much parking could be lost and where will it be replaced, how will it affect the streetscape and whether there is room for improvements as well as concerns to how emergency personnel can get through in a fast and efficient manner.  On the other side of the argument are the benefits that one less lane of traffic will have, including acting as a calming device to drivers as they fly by local businesses.
City staff members were on hand as well as Councillor Margaret Lucas and VicPD Const Bingham, to hear what businesses had to say and to get feedback on both the project and the City’s consultation process.  The DVBA felt it was important to facilitate the conversation to ensure business owners were heard by senior City staff.  City staff members presented design information as well as a map and background on past protocols and processes and what things they have learned since commencing this project. 
On February 9th, there will be a workshop for City council to review the findings and feedback from the businesses and for City staff members to get direction as to where the biking network is headed.
One-on-one consultation with businesses is of paramount importance when owner’s livelihoods are in question. City staff members were able to hear how the bike lanes will directly impact the diverse group of businesses which represent a wide range of demographics on Fort Street.
Coming out of the meeting, business owners all agreed they were not against bike lanes, but there is definite concern as to the location and how that was decided. There was discussion surrounding a potential pilot project or possibly waiting to see how well the bike lanes are used on Pandora Street once they are complete.  
Next steps include disseminating all of the information obtained today back out to our business community and the DVBA will be reaching out to ALL our members to continue the discussion as to where the right location is for the bike lane and to get member feedback.

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