Victoria businesses push council to close part of downtown street to traffic forever

·2 min read
Business owners on Broad Street in Victoria, B.C. are asking city council to consider keeping the street closed to traffic permanently after enjoying the atmosphere and business opportunities it created for them last summer when the city created temporary public spaces during the pandemic. (Twitter/Jeremy Lovesday - image credit)
Business owners on Broad Street in Victoria, B.C. are asking city council to consider keeping the street closed to traffic permanently after enjoying the atmosphere and business opportunities it created for them last summer when the city created temporary public spaces during the pandemic. (Twitter/Jeremy Lovesday - image credit)

Parisians seem to have no problem enjoying outdoor patio dining all year, and business owners in a downtown block of Victoria, B.C. are hoping for the chance to entice west coasters to do the same.

The 1000-block of Broad Street has been closed to cars since July 2020, when the city created temporary public spaces on sidewalks, and in some streets, to help keep small businesses afloat.

According to the city council agenda, the majority of businesses on Broad Street have petitioned councillors to have it stay that way permanently.

Solomon Siegel, co-owner of Pagliacci's Restaurant, a popular spot located at 1011 Broad St., said the atmosphere on the street last summer was beautiful and reminiscent of Europe.

"It was really kind of a magical experience," he said, speaking Tuesday on CBC's All Points West.

A diner enjoys a cold beverage on a summer day in 2020 at Pagliacci's Restaurant's pop-up patio.
A diner enjoys a cold beverage on a summer day in 2020 at Pagliacci's Restaurant's pop-up patio.(Facebook/Pagliaccis)

Siegel said the expanded patio space helped him retain staff and gave local musicians some rare pandemic work performing for diners.

Since the street has been closed, lighting, benches, planters, and a little free library have been added.

In a post-pandemic world, Siegel says he would like to put forward plans to build an outdoor space where Pagliacci's customers could dine outside all year. He would also like to bring in more artists to entertain them — including theatre performers.

Siegel said he has nothing but support from his neighbours, who also want "to make it the coolest block in Victoria."

According to the restaurateur, there are only eight parking spots that would be lost if the block closed to traffic — none of them are handicapped spaces, and there is a parkade nearby where people could still leave their vehicles.

City council will consider a motion to close Broad Street at their next meeting Thursday.