Downtown Victoria: Your Place to Be

Downtown Victoria: Your Place to Be Storytelling Project features unscripted stories of people who live, work, and play in downtown Victoria. The project invites locals from Greater Victoria to share who they are when downtown to help locals reconnect with the heart of their region.

In downtown Victoria, small businesses play a vital role in making our city a great place to live, work, and play. Statistics show shopping locally retains three times more revenue in the local economy than shopping at chain stores. As well as keeping our city diverse and interesting, small, local businesses are also committed to the future of our shared community. 

 The Downtown Victoria Business Association celebrates Small Business Month with profiles of the people and businesses that make downtown vibrant. Bookmark // to read the articles, with in-depth profiles released throughout October.

Creating a sustainable future, one store at a time: Paula & Nairn’s story

Former marine biologist Paula and aquaculture technician Nairn have harnessed their passion for environmental sustainability and climate mitigation to launch Vancouver Island’s first zero-waste grocer, the Zero-Waste Emporium. The two started their zero-waste journey by learning to sew their own burlap cloth produce bags on a well-loved, 1946 sewing machine. In 2018, the couple won the ‘Eco-Preneur of the Year’ award, from the Synergy Sustainability Institute. When they’re not at work, you’ll find them out climbing, paddling, diving, or enjoying a hike. Paula and Nairn tell us why downtown Victoria is their place to be changemakers.

Two foodies create exceptional culinary experiences: Brad and Sarah’s story

Brad Holmes and Sahara have poured their talent and passion for exceptional cuisine into popular downtown restaurant OLO, a foodie’s delight whose unique style driven by Brad’s respect and appreciation for exceptional ingredients and the terroir from which they come. He is a huge fan of freshly foraged wild foods.  When they are not downtown, the couple spend time with their son, adventuring on local beaches, hanging out in their garden, or visiting with friends and family. Brad and Sahara tell us why downtown Victoria is their place to be food educators.

A lifelong passion finds new Inspiration in Victoria: John’s story

John is an 88-year old retiree and lifelong paddler. A triple bypass a few years ago has not slowed him down – but it did inspire his relocation from Salt Spring Island to Victoria, so he could still find ways to kayak post-surgery. John started canoeing as a child at his uncle’s cottage. He has paddled on white water since the early 70s, and now only enjoys sea kayaking. He regularly buses downtown with his wife every week, to enjoy the food, bookstores, coffee, and entertainment the city has to offer. John tells us why downtown Victoria is his place to be vibrant.

A modern approach to a rich tradition: Rande’s story

Famed Victoria-based artist Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw) was born in culture-rich Alert Bay, B.C. Surrounded by the beauty of the land and art, he showed artistic promise at an early age. He studied under several master craftsmen, in multiple mediums, refining his unique approach and technique.

With his unique accumulation of heritage, knowledge and experience Rande continually pushes boundaries to create beautiful and provocative works and challenges audiences to reconsider the role of traditional techniques for contemporary art-making. He inherited his grandfather’s chieftainship in 2008, and is now chief Makwala of the Ma’amtagila people, from the house of the Hamatam. Rande tells us why downtown Victoria is his place to be Native.

Father and son craft urban adventures: Joe and Jakob’s story

A middle schooler with a big imagination and a well-known craft beer afficionado team up most weekends for urban adventures together. Jakob and his dad Joe love to explore downtown Victoria’s streets and parks. When he’s not hanging out with his son, Joe’s most known as the ‘Thirsty Writer,’ BC’s busiest beer writer. He’s the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, a co-founder of Victoria Beer Week and the BC Ale Trail, and the beer columnist for CBC Radio’s All Points West. Are you sensing a theme here? Joe and Jacob tell us why downtown Victoria is their place be fun seekers.

A local entrepreneur with a global impact: Nicole’s story

Victoria boasts a number of hugely successful entrepreneurs and Nicole is no exception. The CEO and Founder of Flytographer’s head office and home is Victoria, and the city is the richer for it.

Among her many accolades, Nicole was named Mashable’s Eight Women Shattering the Travel Industry’s Glass Ceiling. In 2015, she pitched on Dragons’ Den, and in the same year became one of Douglas Magazine’s Ten to Watch award winners. She also won the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Pitch for the Purse in 2018, and she is also now a board member at the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.

When Nicole isn’t working she’s likely planning the next Rosé + Real Talk, community events for women in tech, or planning her next family trip with her two sons. Nicole tells us why downtown Victoria is her place to be an entrepreneur.

Victoria business owner is dedicated to nurturing a vibrant downtown: Teri’s story

Teri is a business owner who’s well known in Victoria for dedication and commitment to nurturing and supporting a vibrant downtown core. The owner of Oscar & Libby’s and Kaboodles Toystore, she also sits on the DVBA board as their retail representative and is an active volunteer and board member of the 9-10 Soup Kitchen. Teri tells us why downtown Victoria is her place to be a business owner.

Taking the angst out of commuting: Cara’s story

How do you stay fit while juggling family and career and make your commute fun? A busy mom shares her advice on fitting workouts into her day in downtown Victoria.

Meet Cara, co-captain of Canada’s 45+ team for the 2019 Indoor Field Hockey World Cup (they finished fourth in their category). A senior project manager for the provincial government, she cycles to work, runs at lunchtime or is often out hiking, playing tennis or field hockey. She tells us why downtown Victoria is her place to play.

Love of Victoria has city woman playing unofficial tour guide: Jas’s story

Meet Jas, a young woman whose love of her hometown often has her shepherding friends and family to local hot spots and attractions. The Camosun College student is a regular face downtown and loves connecting with loved ones over tea, tapas or brunch, walking the causeway, taking a ferry ride to Fisherman’s Wharf, or enjoying tea and treats at Venus and Sophia. She tells us why Victoria is her place to tour.

An Ontario transplant explores his new hometown: Al’s story

From Ottawa’s frigid winters to Victoria’s temperate climate, it’s no wonder Al and his wife Virginia are thrilled to be on Canada’s west coast. He fully embraces downtown living, nestled in their home near Wharf Street.

Though he suffers from multiple sclerosis, Al never lets his growing mobility challenges slow him down. He’s always out exploring, going for lunches with friends and generally enjoying the myriad of activities the city has to offer. He tells us why downtown Victoria is his place to be spontaneous.

Artist draws inspiration from his urban environment: Nate’s story

Nate is a visual artist whose bright, stimulating pieces are often inspired by his love of graffiti and his urban environment. He and his husband Kris, also an artist, moved from Vancouver to Victoria after their wedding. Their bright condo in the heart of Chinatown serves as their art studio and a conversation piece for visiting friends. Nate tells us why downtown Victoria is his place to be authentic.

Helping Victorians create brighter futures: Wendy’s story

As the program coordinator for the Community Casual Labour Pool at the Victoria Cool Aid Society, Wendy has helped around 5,000 people find paid work. The Montreal-born mom of three is also an artist, who loves painting nature scenes and hiking in East Sooke Park with her dog Piper, an 8-year old labradoodle who comes to her office with her daily. Wendy tells us why downtown Victoria is her place to be helpful.

These videos were created by the Downtown Victoria Business Association.