A look back at 2016 with Esquimalt’s mayor

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins reflects on the highlights and challenges of last year, and looks ahead to the issues in 2017.

  • Thu Dec 29th, 2016 6:00pm
  • News

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins takes a look back at the highlights and challenges of 2016.

How would you describe the past year?

This past year has been interesting and full of signifiant challenges. Certainly the wastewater treatment process was something that we had hoped had been resolved going in a new direction — one that held promise to bring on integrated resource management, a different site, a different process and a much stronger environmental process through the west side committee. And then to have that changed at the CRD (Capital Regional District) core was, I can only say, significantly disappointing. And then the process with the province, we had hoped for a different outcome rather than McLoughlin (Point), but given the timeframe that they had to gather any new information, it wasn’t surprising at the end of the day that they ended up back at McLoughlin. We have had a phenomenal year in Esquimalt in terms of real estate, in terms of developers coming, new proposals, changes that we’ve made to improve our processes. So I feel very proud of the work that we’ve achieved and the changes that are in play at this point. There will be significant construction and that means that people will have concerns about everything from parking to possibly dust, but at the end of the day, what that also means is there is growth in the community and that’s been something that for many years, the community has had a concern about.

What has been the highlight?

I think the highlight is seeing projects like the village project move through its process and we will see shovels in the ground this year for projects like the English Inn, that had sat around for a period of time. All of these things are indicating that we are a place that people are looking at to bring their business, to make change, that we’re a good place, a good community for people to move to. Council has made changes in policies that have improved processes, we’ve done an economic development strategy, but the reality is that the volunteer events and festivities that the community has put on have really opened the doors to people saying wow, what a place to go.

What has been the biggest challenge?

I think it’s the wastewater treatment, but it’s also the uncertainty around the police chief issue. It certainly still weighs on everyone’s mind and I look forward to some resolution of that. Who would have thought that that process would be continuing at this point? As hard as the police board is trying to resolve and get though this process, we have to allow the courts to do their work and that’s painfully slow at this point.

What issues are you focused on for the new year?

I think we as a community still have the process for wastewater treatment to go through. It’s my hope that other communities will now be respectful to allow a normal process to occur in Esquimalt, without rhetoric to occur that may be harmful. There’s no reason that can’t be a positive process. The thing that we’re anticipating most and looking forward to is putting a shovel in the ground for our village project. That speaks to a whole new downtown activity area. The other thing is completing our official community plan review process which always is of significant interest and value because it tells us what people are wanting in their community for the next 10 years going forward.