When one lives in a desirable location, it may seem like one is always on vacation, but after spending most of my life here and not owning a home, I have realized that it is like a vacation that I can only escape from by going on another vacation, never really being able to settle down for good.
The question is whether this is actually a bad thing. Am I really trapped in a sort of paradise or is it my decision, a decision of quality over quantity?
Victoria became a tourist destination because of its mild temperatures and its scenic ocean and mountain views, but its status as a city seems to have been an afterthought. Even though it is the capital of British Columbia and has an abundance of buildable lots, they are scattered between 13 separate municipalities through the Capital Regional District, resulting in a slow development process. Not all of it due to the complex issue of where to build in such a confined area.
Victoria and those who have decided to invest here have made the preservation of its heritage buildings a priority. This is important because we must remember that Victoria is a tourist destination first and an urban environment second. The main reason people take the time to come here is precisely because of its heritage districts, which are extensive and encompassing, so much so the more modern buildings tend to stick out, and not in a good way.
It is because Victoria is such a small place that these newer buildings attract so much attention, but they are necessary for the urban densification that inevitably comes with increased demand. As with Manhattan, densification is not only necessary, but desirable. It shows sophistication and commitment to the vitality and survival of the city.
The only problem is affordability, which has resulted in a housing crisis, emphasizing the need for densification. But with the city’s commitment to preserving its heritage sites, this consideration generally comes with at least a 20 per cent increase in all associated construction costs, which factored into the cost of either renting or owning, contributes to the crisis.
If quality of life is more important than quantity, then the problems residents have to endure, including spending almost 50 per cent of their income on accommodations, can be said to be worth it.
While some people decide to move here, others, like myself, seem trapped. But the question remains, is it because I can’t leave or because I won’t leave. Speaking from experience, the answer is not as simple as it sounds. The thing about discovering a place, either for the first time or as the result of careful planning, is that we don’t know where we’re going until we get there. It sounds trite, but it’s true. The decision of quality over quantity is perhaps the hardest we will ever make, especially if that decision is about where we are going to live for the rest of our lives.
First Nations have been living here for thousands of years and are influential in any decision concerning construction or development within their territories.
Victoria is a lot of different things to different people. It seems big because it is big as a destination, but small in comparison to the rest of the world. A place where people go to get away from it all, while the common resident wishes it had a little more to offer.