One block along Victoria's Government Street. Photo © Jason Vanderhill, via flickr & Creative Commons

One block along Victoria’s Government Street. Photo © Jason Vanderhill, via flickr & Creative Commons

I have little need for t-shirts, caps or jackets emblazoned with our capital’s name. I don’t bother with coasters, tea cozies or trinkets to remind me of my day-to-day existence here.

When I can step out my door to live the dream, I rarely think of shops that sell souvenirs to people who visit and want reminders of their brief time here.

I’m not the intended market.

However, a market clearly exists to keep the souvenir-type shops along Government Street in business, year after year.

They comprise about a dozen of the 50 or so shops along the eight blocks between Humboldt to Fisgard streets. This stretch of Government Street has been in the news lately, after Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps suggested lowering commercial property taxes along the street to encourage revitalization. The number of empty storefronts and For Rent signs—13 blackened storefronts at recent count—prompted her proposal.

Yet, while shops catering mostly to tourists are a minority along that stretch, their presence greatly influences the street’s informal, local brand. When many local residents think of Government street, it is often these shops that come to mind – and long lines of idling tour buses, sidewalk-clogging crowds, and phalanxes of kamikaze scooters.

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….


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