Skip to content

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

(Black Press Media file photo)

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

Pleasant words for one who is enchanted by those descending like a swarm of locusts devouring their way through B.C.’s “garden” capital city.

Those who don’t fly, often make their way on foot, in a horse-drawn carriage to play ‘Queen for a Day’, or else ride in pedicabs pulled by fit young males flaunting fairytales about the jolly days of yore.

As a James Bay tenant for more than two decades, I’ve seen a major transition of this quaint colonial fortress island outpost into a profitable paradise for well-heeled property investors not to mention a burgeoning mass tourism hub for a minority of businesses benefiting from the annual migration of Alaska-bound aquaholics.

Just what kind of “experience” is Victoria selling? Multi-million-dollar condos by the sea, overpriced “eco-friendly” whale-watching tours, and big-budget bus tours by the thousands to Butchart Gardens?

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

While the majority of Victoria residents are facing unprecedented increases in their cost of living from shelter to food, transportation, and health care, a growing population barely making ends meet now camp out in streets and parks. In this city, visitors appear to have a higher priority among politicians than the needs of locals.

Perhaps elected officials and those who are facilitating the growth of inflated real estate prices and tourism dollars bringing touted “benefits” to the city should look at the costs locals pay for congestion, pollution, coastal erosion, inundation, biodiversity loss and population displacement.

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

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

Victoria Adams