Mayor’s message: A foot and bike friendly Esquimalt

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins shares thoughts in monthly column

By Barb Desjardins

Our recent age-friendly assessment contains some interesting statistics around walkability and mobility. The one that really jumped out for me was that 33% of all trips taken within Esquimalt are by foot. By comparison the average for the core area is 7%

Why so much walking in Esquimalt? I think there are several reasons. Firstly, we are a compact community of ten square kilometres, so you’re never far from amenities, parks and services. But we also have a safe and comfortable network of sidewalks and trails in the community that we are building on every year.  We have a Township Sidewalk Master Plan that aims to provide at least one sidewalk along all streets and prioritizes new sidewalk projects. We also have a Pedestrian Charter at the Township which puts pedestrians at the heart of our urban planning.

Our geography also encourages walking and cycling. Did you know that you are never further than 1.6 kilometres from a waterway in Esquimalt? We are a peninsula bounded on the south by the Juan de Fuca Strait, on the west by Esquimalt Harbour and on the north by the historic Gorge Waterway. And along our coastlines we have some of the finest parks in the region, including Saxe Point Park to the south and Esquimalt Gorge Park to the north. What better way to access these waterways and parks than by cycling or walking?

At 33.9% Esquimalt exceeds most communities in B.C. and Canada at using non-vehicle modes of transport (bus, walking and cycling) to get to work. The Admirals Road bike lanes are a particular improvement for cyclists with their ample width, roadway buffer, and distinctive lane markings. Combined with existing E&N trail routes, cyclists can easily ride to and through Esquimalt. I see many of our Township staff members as well as CFB Esquimalt and dockyard workers taking advantage of this cycling network every day. We are in a process of continuous improvement of our roadway bike lanes as well, including parts of Esquimalt Road this month.

We also encourage walking in the Township through our walking tour brochures, and the explore Esquimalt app. Walking is so much more enjoyable when you have information about local history and geography.  Local writer and historian Sherri Robinson has provided much of the fascinating content found in the printed brochures and the digital app. Ask for walking tour brochures at municipal hall, and download our app at iTunes.

We invite our regional neighbours and tourists arriving in Victoria to take the West Song Walkway to Esquimalt, and explore by foot all that our community has to offer.  What you’ll find is friendly, inviting residents; scenic and unique coastal and inland parks; and our fascinating history around every corner.