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LETTER: Victoria residents are paying the price for the city’s appetite for tourists

Vaseline 2 months ago

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto says cruise ship passengers from more than 300 ships visiting each year “bring a lot of interest and money to the city” and we need to “create an experience that people want to come back for.”

Pleasant words for one who has been enchanted by those who descend like a swarm of locusts making their way through the ‘garden’ capital of BC.

Those who don’t fly often go on foot, in a horse-drawn carriage to play ‘Queen for a Day’, or else ride in pedicabs pulled by fit young men who show off fairy tales of the merry days of yore.

As a renter of James Bay for more than twenty years, I have seen a major transition from this quaint outpost on a colonial fortress island to a profitable paradise for wealthy real estate investors, not to mention a burgeoning mass tourism hub for a minority of companies that profit of the annual migration of aquaholics to Alaska.

What kind of ‘experience’ is Victoria selling exactly? Multi-million dollar oceanfront condos, overpriced “eco-friendly” whale watching tours and thousands of big bus trips to Butchart Gardens?

Is the local economy really kept afloat by the crowds on cruise ships? Have short-term rentals known as “ghost hotels” become the savior for the city’s many pied-a-terre property owners?

While the majority of Victoria’s residents face unprecedented increases in the cost of living, from shelter to food, transportation and healthcare, a growing population barely making ends meet is now camping out in streets and parks. In this city, visitors seem to be a higher priority for politicians than the needs of locals.

Perhaps elected officials and those who facilitate the growth of inflated real estate prices and tourist dollars that deliver the city’s touted “benefits” should look at the costs locals pay in congestion, pollution, coastal erosion, flooding, biodiversity loss and displacement of the population.

There is no free ride or free lunch. It is the tired citizens who pay the lion’s share of taxes to maintain our infrastructure and services, not the day trippers.

Maybe it’s time to consider meeting taxpayers’ needs before bending over backwards for travelers.

Victoria Adams