A road-closing good time

The Week: March 15-21 — Looks like John Vickers will get to close Government Street after all

John Vickers has finally received the support in writing he needed to get the city on board with his lofty plans to shut down a portion of Government Street come Busker Fest time — now, he’s in a waiting game.

While all businesses gave the verbal approval weeks ago, along with the support of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the city still refused to a-OK Vickers’ request until they had written permission from every group. But, persistent as ever, Vickers was able to get every business to sign an official form, and submitted the needed signatures with the festival application form.

“With our special events permit now submitted for the festival, which includes our Government Street evening operations and indicated merchant support, we now look forward to receiving our permit to hold the event,” says Vickers, executive director of the Victoria International Buskers Festival Society. “I really can’t see any other barriers standing in our way.”

The festival, which runs from July 20 to 29 across downtown and along the Inner Harbour, will be in its second year this summer. Last year, Vickers says the permit itself was not issued until only weeks before the festival took place, but he sees no other obstacles standing in the way that would affect the chances of the permit and road closures. Vickers did successfully shut down Langley Street last year for specific performances, which was also slated to close again this year, along with the section of Government between Yates and View. Above all, Vickers says the festival “must work” for the businesses too, and says that having a few thousand people right outside your door is good reason to stay open a bit later on performance nights.

“Downtown is going through a rough time right now, and I believe it is the special events like these that breathe life back into it,” says Vickers. “It’s not as though we are having a beer garden in the middle of the road … we’re providing entertainment and fun for tourists and residents.” M

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