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Hot Topics October 2017 in Victoria, BC

Green Bikes Downtown Part of New Public Bike-Share Program

Maintaining the title of the Cycling Capital of Canada takes practice, persistence, and ingenuity. Following a summer of bike-lane upgrades and further infrastructure development, Victoria has once again committed to improving its cycling infrastructure. On October 2, 2017, local residents woke up to find the entire downtown core peppered with matching lime-green-detailed bicycles. These new additions are from a Chinese company called U-Bicycle North America, and Victoria is their first stop in Western Canada to set up their stationless bike-sharing service. Over 150 bicycles have been placed downtown for general public use, as this bike sharing service does not require a membership. Anyone can take a bike for a spin, at only $1 for 30 minutes; all you have to do is download the app. Mechanically, the bikes are designed for ease of use, featuring a step-through frame, three speeds, helmets attached and a carbon belt drive system that eliminates greasy chains. Depending on the success of the project, it is expected to expand to a 300 bicycle fleet in the coming months.

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Double-Decker Buses Replaced by Environmentally Friendly Model

Once hailed to be “more British than the British,” Victoria has been home to many details echoing our friendly neighbours across the pond, including afternoon tea services, similar architecture, and, until now, red double-decker buses. The iconic bright buses have been a fixture in downtown Victoria, especially during summer’s tourist season, offering tours of the downtown core and other scenic areas of the city like Oak Bay Village. The Gray Line tour company, operated by Wilson Transportation, recently announced that Thanksgiving Weekend will be the last run for the buses as they transition to a greener option – Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 buses, which are diesel-fueled vehicles that meet the highest standards for allowable emissions. This change signifies the deeper movement in Victoria tourism from a small British-style colony town to a destination in its own right, offering a perfect mix of history and modernity. These new buses still maintain Victoria’s British connection – they have been operating in London since 2005 and, thanks to their similar style and colour to the older models, are a great aesthetic match for Victoria as well.

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West-Shore Parkway Connects Locals to Langford

The West Shore, comprised of the communities of Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Sooke and Metchosin, is one of the fastest growing regions in the Greater Victoria Area. This popular area for young families is experiencing something of a development boom as transit options extend and business frequently choose to open new locations across these communities. Infrastructure development has also greatly increased in the area, and has not succumbed to the curse of delays that tend to diminish the success of other projects in Victoria. Most recently, a brand new connector highway called the West Shore Parkway has been completed. Complete with sidewalks and cycling lanes, this new section of road directly connects the further-outlying communities of Sooke and Metchosin to major highways in the area. While this increases convenience, first and foremost, for the residents of Sooke and Metchosin, Langford is sure to benefit as well. Business opportunities are expected to increase tremendously from the new ease of access. This is just one of handful of development projects spurred by the rapid growth of the West Shore.

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New Condo Developments Adapting to a Changing City

Victoria’s housing market has been successful for the past year, avoiding the kind of dangerous booms found in Vancouver while maintaining steady growth. Realistically, however, the city has some growing pains to face and must begin to adapt. Because of the nature of Victoria’s geography, space is at a premium. Additionally, housing prices have steadily risen in recent years, becoming increasingly prohibitive to younger people wishing to stay in the community. Two new condo developments are hoping to address these concerns. The first will be a multi-story development in the Saanich community of Gordon Head, which has typically featured predominantly single-family homes. This new development will have 10 units dedicated solely for renters, hopefully easing the recent tension on the city’s rental market and providing housing for older students at the nearby University of Victoria. The second project is a downtown development hoping to offer breaks and incentives to first-time home buyers. The Vivid at the Yates is pricing its units 8% below market value, and only selling them to households with an income under $150,000. While neither of these projects can address all of the housing concerns for the region, they are step in the right direction as Victoria attempts to adapt to its growth and expansion.

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