COVID-19

Images From An Empty City

Just as spring weather hits, photographer James MacDonald captures the eerie scenes of a capital that has never been emptier

COVID-19

Images From An Empty City

Just as spring weather hits, photographer James MacDonald captures the eerie scenes of a capital that has never been emptier

The baggage carousel of Victoria International Airport around 1 p.m. on March 18 (James MacDonald for The Capital)
COVID-19

Images From An Empty City

Just as spring weather hits, photographer James MacDonald captures the eerie scenes of a capital that has never been emptier

Images From An Empty City
The baggage carousel of Victoria International Airport around 1 p.m. on March 18 (James MacDonald for The Capital)

Flowers are blooming, the weather is warm and skies are clear, but a wave of shutdowns prompted by COVID-19 has transformed whole swaths of Victoria into an eerie ghost town. In an exclusive image gallery for The Capital, photographer James MacDonald captures the sight of a Victoria without people.

It was only two weeks ago that an anti-pipeline encampment on the front steps of the BC Legislature was dominating headlines. Although it's still possible to practice social distancing in outdoor areas like the legislature lawns, a steep drop-off in tourists and downtown workers have left the area deserted.
Even without the COVID-19 pandemic, it wouldn't be an unusual late March sight to see these buses parked on an empty Ogden Point. But with the cruise season closed until at least July, this is going to be the view for the rest of spring.
No buskers. No carvers. No ice cream. No caricaturists. There is no provincial order stopping people from strolling along the causeway, so the desolation seen in this photo is purely organic.
Those are still waters on what is normally one of Canada's busiest harbours. Although Harbour Air is still flying, the Victoria Clipper, the MV Coho, Victoria Harbour Ferry and various whale watching operators have all shut down due to COVID-19. As this empty dock hints, it's also poised to be a very slow summer for Victoria's usual megayacht traffic.
It was on St. Patrick's Day that provincial health officer Bonnie Henry ordered the closure of all bars and pubs within British Columbia. As a result, a day that should have been one of the most profitable on the calendar for the Irish Times Pub was instead the beginning of a prolonged and uncertain purgatory.
A lone security guard watches over an empty Market Square just after noon on Thursday.
Mayfair Mall is still open, albeit with reduced hours. While some Victoria grocery stores have been seeing record-breaking sales as residents stock up on essentials, the exact opposite has occurred across the rest of the retail sector.
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It's not unusual to see deer wandering the grounds of UVic, but the ungulates now have the run of the place after the school shifted all its learning online. As revealed in a statement this week by the university, the shutdown still wasn't early enough: On one of the last days of classes on March 12, a student attended lectures while unwittingly being a confirmed carrier of COVID-19.
Victoria International Airport is still open and processing flights, but with Canada's borders essentially sealed off and domestic travel strongly discouraged, this was the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
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