Smelly ravine of­fends senses

Times Colonist - - Comment -

The John­son Street ravine has de­gen­er­ated into a re­cep­ta­cle for de­funct mem­bers of the ca­nine and fe­line fam­i­lies, de­cay­ing odds and ends, and malar­i­ous soil. On the prin­ci­ple that “out of sight is out of mind,” and for­get­ful of the ro­man­tic mem­ory that clung so ten­derly to the once-fra­grant lo­cal­ity, ev­ery of­fen­sive ob­ject too nasty to be tol­er­ated in any other lo­cal­ity is hurled into the depths of the pel­lu­cid stream and left there to fes­ter and cor­rode and rot.

But, though lost to sight, the cor­rupt fa­gends of an­i­mal and veg­etable matter have not failed to ap­peal to at least one sense — that of smelling. Though out of the eye, they are ever pre­sent in the nose.

Nu­mer­ous have been the learned es­says penned by lo­cal pun­dits, and the im­por­tance of adopt­ing strin­gent hy­gienic mea­sures to avert the aw­ful ef­fects re­sult­ing from the con­stant in­hala­tion of car­bonic gas upon the hu­man sys­tem. Fre­quent have been the an­gry protes­ta­tions of the half-stran­gled habi­tants against a con­tin­u­ance of this nosegay of nas­ti­ness.

Suc­ces­sive Cor­po­ra­tions have been ap­pealed to and have un­der­taken to “deal with it kindly,” but the nui­sance has “fol’owed them blindly” wher­ever they went, un­til at last they were com­pelled to ac­knowl­edge that the stench had more “power” than the Act of In­cor­po­ra­tion con­ferred upon them, and they re­tired van­quished.

But the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil last win­ter got an­gry. The mem­bers be­lieved that the ravine had had its own way long enough, and in a fit of nau­seous in­dig­na­tion they passed an Act con­fer­ring the nec­es­sary power on the Mayor and Coun­cil to re­move all an­i­mate or inan­i­mate nui­sances.

Un­der this Act the City Cor­po­ra­tion have had the water-course opened and fine cul­verts built, and have is­sued an or­der for a box-drain to run the length and breadth of the ravine to be built at the ex­pense of the lot own­ers — a drain suf­fi­ciently large to carry off all the water and suf­fi­ciently sub­stan­tial to pre­vent va­grant dogs and cats from com­mit­ting sui­cide by drown­ing, or de­cayed an­i­mal and veg­etable matter from find­ing a lodg­ment therein.

The cul­verts are com­pleted; and there is just this one lit­tle dif­fi­culty op­er­at­ing against the con­struc­tion of the drain: money is scarce. In some in­stances the drain would cost more than the lots would bring un­der the ham­mer.

The own­ers of real es­tate fac­ing the stream of liq­uid mud have protested against the en­force­ment of the or­der, which they seem to re­gard with even less favour than they do the stench that threat­ens them with an­ni­hi­la­tion.

They can stand the nui­sance; be­cause, as one of their num­ber says, they are “used to it;” but they “can’t stand the ex­pense” of a drain. The Mayor and the San­i­tary Com­mis­sion have con­sid­ered their case and find that, like the times, it is “hard,” and con­sid­er­ing the state of the money mar­ket and the near ap­proach of the cool weather, have re­laxed so much of the or­der as re­lates to the con­struc­tion of the ex­pen­sive drain.

They think a tem­po­rary af­fair will an­swer ev­ery pur­pose for the pre­sent, while they re­serve the right to or­der a more sub­stan­tial struc­ture at some fu­ture pe­riod, and there is now rea­son for hop­ing that the nui­sance, if not en­tirely abated, will be greatly mod­i­fied, and the stream grad­u­ally re­stored to its pris­tine state of po­etic clean­li­ness.

The Daily Bri­tish Colonist and Vic­to­ria Chron­i­cle, Sept. 12, 1867

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