Larry Sims introduced Jeff Bray of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.  A graduate of UBC, Jeff had a 13 year career with the B.C. Government and in 2001, he was elected the MLA for Victoria-Beacon HIll.  More recently, Jeff was the manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Shaw B.C.  Very community-oriented, Jeff is the Co-Chair of the Coalition to End Homelessness, Vice-Chair of the Royal B.C. Museum Foundation and Vice-President of the North Quadra Community Association.
Jeff talked about the re-opening of Victoria and provided a summary of what business was like pre-covid, the situation during the last 80 days and finally, what the future may look like.  Prior to the pandemic, the biggest issue was the labour shortage with a very low retail vacancy rate and most businesses doing very well.  There was a lot of residential expansion and the tourism industry was performance was excellent.  Last fall, there was a rise in street disorder which caused some issues for business downtown.
With the arrival of co-vid, there was almost a complete shutdown.  There was little or no street traffic and people worked from home.  There was a collapse of the tourism industry with the cruise ships cancellation and the closure of international borders.  The focus of the association was rescue with attempts to find support from government for small business in the area.  The biggest challenge was business trying to survive without knowledge of the future and no one had the answers.
Re-opening has been difficult and will take some time.  For restaurants, new regulations have allowed them to open with social-distancing requirements in place and operating at 50% capacity.  Retail has not fared so well as the lack of street traffic and no tourists has really impacted business.  Jeff thought that the next 90 days will be tough and that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  He re-iterated that these businesses need local support to survive and encouraged all of us to support them as much as we possibly can.