During the past few months, it has been made overwhelmingly clear to me that there are groups in Victoria that are feeling misrepresented or underrepresented when City Council is making decisions that impact them. This week I want to talk about businesses and non-profits who operate downtown.
Victoria’s most important economic drivers are high technology companies with tourism continuing to play an important role. The draw for high tech employees and tourists is the charm and collection of daytime and evening vibrancy of our “Old Town”, downtown and our commitment to social and sustainable business models. This is our competitive advantage over outlying communities.
Over the last few years, operating a small business is getting increasingly difficult in Victoria. Costs are exceedingly high due to increasing property taxes, increasing employee wages, costs associated with transforming business practices to be more sustainable, and competition from large urban centres outside the City.
I have spent time listening to small business leaders in Victoria. They are frustrated. Many say they can’t take one more ‘hit’ to their business. The City needs to make it easier and more attractive to do business and provide services in Victoria.There needs to be more incentives and removal of barriers for both new and established businesses and services. Creating an outdoor patio should not take months for regulatory approval. We need more life on our streets. The nature of commerce is changing, and our City needs to keep up.
The City needs to continue to strengthen incentives for start-up businesses and help mentor and guide new entrepreneurs through the onerous process of setting up a new business. Lastly, and potentially most importantly, City Council needs to have strong relationships with new and established entrepreneurs when making decisions that will impact them.
I support all entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations who are bringing unique services, vitality and charm to our streets.
The lawn signs are spreading like rabbits, thanks to your great support! It’s nice to find my name all around the city and to feel supported by so many of you! Lawn signs are allowing for name recognition and are a great form of community-based social marketing. If you don’t have yours yet, make sure to click the button and we will quickly beautify your lawn with one!
Ken McFarlan and I worked together and he is a lovely, trusting and supportive friend. Everyday we get to know a little more about each other through the time we have spent walking through our neighbourhoods. Here’s how he describes his experience canvassing with me:
”It’s great fun to canvass with Rachael and to support her as she interacts with our community at front doors, local markets and on the street. Rachael is fearlessly authentic and regardless of whether individuals are receptive to her message, she listens, seeks to understand and appreciates that communities have many voices and opinions that must be bridged to try to accommodate diverse interests. She will stand her ground when challenged, but is always respectful and nonjudgmental. Like any good politician, she can withstand criticism and she has a great sense of humour. It’s not easy knocking on stranger’s doors and trying to get out the vote for your candidate, but I promise you’ll make some great memories on the campaign trail with Rachael.”
Ame-Lia, Shannon, Ken and Kevin on a canvassing stroll!