Esquimalt council to mull referendum with election

Municipal election ballots in Esquimalt this November may ask residents to vote on supporting or rejecting the township’s proposed village plan.

The wording of a referendum question about the stalled development project is now under development after council made the request to staff Monday night.

The proposed village plan stalled in May when more than 40 residents objected to proposed zoning and Official Community Plan changes to the municipal square.

Council agreed to indefinitely postpone amendments that would have paved the way for a commercial-residential tower up to eight storeys tall and a condominium up to 12 storeys high.

Residents said public consultation on the issue was lacking, but a referendum question may address that, said Coun. Meagan Brame.

“It will give true transparency. It will give everybody an exact voice,” she said, noting that some people may feel intimated coming to council to speak publicly if they’re against the crowd in the room.

“I feel there would be little cost to it, as we are already in an election, and we would have a true voice of what everybody wants, yea or nay,” Brame said.

Whether or not a referendum question can replace a public hearing will also be explored.

The draft question is expected to return to council within the month.

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