As Victoria continues to reopen with new safety measures in place, more small businesses are welcoming people back to their shops and services. Read about updates to transit, fun activities to do downtown, and how the City is planning on making more space for patios and pedestrians.

As the downtown core reopens and begins to welcome us back, there are a few things to consider when planning for an adventure downtown. On June 1, BC began entering Phase 3 of the Restart Plan and more areas of our favourite businesses and activities are becoming accessible again in safe ways.

Changes to local transit, downtown activities, and how to enjoy the upcoming patio season have come into effect too so let’s take a look at what that means for Victorians looking forward to an outing.

Victoria Transit Updates

As of June 1st, BC Transit has reinstated fares and front-of-bus boarding. Passengers are encouraged to use a face covering while on the bus and at bus stops where physical distancing is not possible. Exit the bus at the rear and reserve exiting at the front door for those with mobility aids. Reduced capacity on buses is still in effect so the best way to keep track of the status of a bus is via NextRide. There will continue to be enhanced cleaning of buses to ensure public safety while on transit. For more information about the measures in place, read BC Transit’s news release.

Youth Transit Passes are now available again and can be applied for online. Youth or parents can provide their information to have passes for June, July, and August mailed to them. Find more details about Victoria’s Youth Transit Pass Program on the City of Victoria’s information page.

Parking Downtown Updates

The City has also updated its parking fee structure to reduce fees in City parkades to a maximum of $5 per day. On-street parking rates will be $1 per hour with no time limits (except for 30-minute zones).

What to Do Downtown

In these physically distant times, many of downtown’s businesses have had to change their business models and adapt to still provide customers, clients, and fans with their experiences, products, or services. Here are some ideas for fun, safe things to do downtown at one of our many wonderful small businesses.

The Arcade Experience

Quazar’s Arcade has moved to a temporary rental-only system where pinball fanatics and old-school arcade lovers can rent the whole space for two-hour blocks, with all games free to play during that time. Rentals are available seven days a week and can accommodate up to 20 guests.

Infusion Edutainment Virtual Reality has also reopened, with new cleaning protocols and safety measures in place, for some virtual fun.

Peacock Billiards is open again as well for pool, food and drinks, and retail sales.

Outdoor Adventures

Don’t have a bike at home, but still want to experience the sensation of wind blowing through your hair as you cruise along downtown Victoria’s quieter streets? Or maybe you want to take a hybrid bike up a trail or give a specialty bike a try. Rent a bike from The Pedaler and go for that tandem bike ride with your partner, solo e-Bike excursion, or family outing.

And if you prefer being on the water, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Ocean River Sports and see the city from a different angle. Make it a physically distant activity with people in your bubble or plan for a solo or tandem paddle for some quality outdoor time.

Escape Rooms

Want to be locked up in a room that’s different than the one you’ve been waiting to escape at home? Downtown’s escape rooms have reopened with new safety plans and procedures in place. Visit Horror Escape if you’re a thrill-seeker (see their safety plan for more details) or check out Quest Reality Games for some spooky secrets to uncover (view their COVID-19 FAQs for more informaton on their safety plan). Both businesses offer private rooms and are reducing the number of people allowed in the space to accommodate for safe physical distancing and capacity requirements, among other measures.

The Mountain Experience

Get ready for this summer’s camping getaway with a round of axe throwing at Axe & Grind. The team has added new protocols for staff and axe throwers, which you can read about in this message regarding their reopening.

For existing Crag-X members and punch pass holders that miss a good ol’ climbing wall, the climbing centre is open as of June 1st. Climbers can book a time slot, initially for one climber per booking in order to manage the number of people present in the gym at once. A face covering will be needed in order to climb. For more details on booking a slot and what to consider, visit Crag-X’s COVID information and booking page.

Wandering Around Downtown

An interesting way to get reacquainted with downtown after the hiatus is through a walking tour! Secrets of the City has four free walking tour itineraries to download, taking walkers around the Victoria of old. Learn about the city’s history while you rediscover downtown in a whole new light.

And for more history and walking, combined with a splash of art, The Hands of TIme public art display is a fun scavenger hunt to enjoy on a summer’s day. Find all 12 bronze sculptures in their locations throughout the city centre and nearby parks.

Patio and Park Season in Downtown Victoria

The City of Victoria recently approved a number of changes to help businesses through the public health emergency. Outdoor spaces will be converted for public and commercial use by turning on-street parking into patio and sidewalk space. Government St. between View St. and Fort St. will also be closed to traffic (other than emergency vehicles and delivery trucks) and will temporarily become pedestrian use only. Food trucks and bike vendors will also be able to set up shop in newly designated food vendor zones.

Businesses can also apply to make use of parks for things like outdoor yoga or fitness classes. Read more details about the City’s “Build Back Victoria” plan and how it will affect parts of downtown and beyond.

Between fun activities (with increased safety measures), walking tours, and more space for pedestrian mobility, there’s a lot to resdicover and explore downtown!

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