The really good thing to report about my first six months living in Canada is that the people are great. But I knew that already. It was the prime motivation for my moving here.
I chose Victoria because I have so many friends here, but your city makes me sad.
First, there's the appalling untreated sewage problem, which is not adequately assessed or addressed by the gov't and local media. That there is any debate about whether Victoria should treat its raw sewage before dumping it into the ocean is almost as deplorable as the city's laggard pace at devising any real plan to deal with this environmental atrocity.
You see, despite the noble efforts of one Mr. Floaty, (a guy who protested around Victoria costumed as an outsized turd), it's not about the poop. It's the billions of gallons of cleaners, solvents, soaps, shampoos, and toxic pharmaceuticals being flushed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca that are obviously harmful to the ecosystem. Our Pacific Northwest salmon are endangered and our endangered Southern Resident Orcas are dwindling. Who's conducted the research and compiled the data, concluding that Victoria's sewage can be dismissed as a contributing factor? Who's taken the water samples? Who's tested the fish? Who's thought to place cameras within ten feet of those outflow pipes to see what we're actually flushing into the sea?
Then there's the outrageous cost of food. Twenty-five years ago, more than 90% of the food consumed in Victoria was grown or raised on Vancouver Island. Today, less than 5%. That is a travesty. Our leaders sold out Island farmers for industrial agriculture and animal feedlots, thus holding its citizens hostage to the marked-up cost of ferrying food to the Island, and rendering everyone vulnerable to food shortages when the inevitable fuel crisis hits.
Yet, the real problem with the capitol of BC can be found on its crumbling streets. (Yes, infrastructure here is in rapid decay.) The glaring issue facing Victorians is the city's severe housing crisis, also a major problem in Vancouver. All it takes is for one to get caught in the crossfire of hyper-expensive housing and some sad twist of fate, like job loss, loss of health, spousal break up, a bogus eviction, etc., and you can find yourself sleeping nights in a little tent on Pandora Street – or in a cardboard box on Ballentyne Pier – in about two months time.
Did you know the province spends fifty-five thousand dollars per homeless person a year? And its policies and approach to the problem fails to keep them off the street. Sure, giving these displaced folk a bed in a shelter is start, but it isn't a real home. It might be a worthy experiment to dole out the money directly to a test group of homeless people over the course of a year and see how they perform.
Ultimately, the cities of Victoria and Vancouver must be held to a very harsh light for failing to mandate and create affordable housing, thus allowing those who control and manage real estate to drain the pockets of the working class, leaving them so terribly vulnerable. It's deplorable… and reprehensible.
Finally, for now, I cringe to report that the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Victoria City Council are implementing a new program: free crack pipes for addicts, because they believe it will help prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. (Hmmm. It’s my understanding that HIV cannot be spread through saliva, but, hey, I only know what I read in books.) According to one council member, they are also "hearing" that tensions over crack pipes results in hostilities. Good lord. It's the drug itself that makes people violent, and the powers that be want to enable its use?
Man, I can hardly wait to see how BC handles the Olympics!