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Partnership and Communication

We all make the best decisions we can with the information we have available at the time, BUT we can always learn more and we need to listen to others to hear their perspectives. As business owners, you need to deal with these facts daily to grow and protect your business and thereby your livelihood, and yet sometimes we make mistakes with the best of intentions. It seems that many Fort Street businesses are open to the idea of bike lanes on Fort Street, like many other people downtown; however, they did not feel they were properly consulted or engaged. When construction directly affects a business’ front doors, there is a lot at stake.The DVBA was able to arrange meetings between business owners, landowners, residents, city staff and council to get the message heard. Through our advocacy efforts, Mayor Helps heard what the concerns were and what all of us can do better moving forward. Below is a letter to all the businesses on Fort Street, but it also pertains to those on Pandora Avenue as well as the acknowledgment that staff and council will work hard to continue to engage at a higher level with Downtown Victoria. Thank you to everyone who has been and continues to be involved. We all have a lot to learn, but one thing is clear listening  AND working together collaboratively sets us up for greater success.

– Kerri Milton

"Dear Downtown Victoria Business Association in care of: Fort Street Businesses,

I am writing this letter to apologize to you on behalf of myself, council and city staff for not doing a better job working with you on the separated bike lanes for Fort Street. In particular I am sorry for the angst, worry and for making you feel like the City does not care about you or your business.  We acknowledge that our initial engagement process was inadequate and may have caused you stress and for you to lose faith that your City will act in your best interests. I am truly sorry for taking an approach that felt more like the bike corridor on Fort Street is something that happened TO you and not WITH you. And finally, I apologize for taking the "Forts Hearts Bikes" stickers I saw in some Fort Street businesses to represent the views of the Fort Street business community as a whole.

The City does care about you and your businesses. We care about the high-quality and varied goods, services and experiences you provide. And we care about the people you employ to deliver these. I am not going to write a whole bunch about the changes that downtown is going through right now, the fast-paced growth of the downtown residential population, the need for solutions to transportation challenges etc; you are as acutely aware of all these changes as we are. I am also not going to outline the reasons as to “why Fort Street”; as our staff have provided background and are happy to provide more on an up to date ongoing basis moving forward with you.

What I can say is that going forward - and I know this has already started - our staff will be working more closely with you for insight on the street and direction as to your needs. They will be listening to your ideas and suggestions about how we can implement the Fort Street bike corridor in a way that enhances your business and increases your sales. In order for bikes and bike infrastructure to work for business we not only need to ask for your comments but to truly work collaboratively. You have my commitment that we will do this.

Please accept my apology and we look forward to working with your very diverse, unique and lively street.

Sincerely and with gratitude,"

Lisa Helps
Victoria Mayor

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