Neighbourhoods are more than a cluster of houses or businesses. A carefully planned neighbourhood can define a town and the way people live their lives.
The Township of Esquimalt hopes to change the lives of its residents by bringing life into its downtown with the Esquimalt Village Plan.
“It’ll be the initiative to trigger a domino effect of redevelopment,” said Bill Brown, director of development services in Esquimalt. “When the local government invests in a project of this caliber, that’s an enormous signal of confidence in the community and the economy.”
Brown said the village will be a hub of activity for Esquimalt with a mix of both businesses and residential units. Creating an effective neighbourhood that meets a multitude of needs requires a lot of coordination and planning, but the benefits will be boundless for many people.
“It will kind of be Esquimalt’s living room for its residents to come, enjoy coffee and meet and talk about ideas,” said Brown. “It’ll add vibrancy and energy and the enjoyment of eating and being together.”
Brown said the purpose of creating a centre of activity such as the village is to get the heart of the town pumping.
“We’re very lucky that we have this big open space that’s ready for redevelopment.”
Having a neighbourhood such as this in Esquimalt will help to change people’s perception of the town, said Brown.
Brown is hoping the village plan will increase the sense of community in the downtown core. In addition, he believes such a plan is unique to Greater Victoria, and will therefore cause people to notice Esquimalt and see it in a new way.
“Esquimalt has traditionally had a bad image, but I think it’s changing, absolutely. People are beginning to realize Esquimalt’s a pretty nice place,” he said.
Rather than being somewhere people pass through on their way to and from work, the village is meant to create the opportunity for people to create their base in Esquimalt. It will serve as a place where people can live and work.
“There’s lots of people that drive by, but I think we’d like those people to … actually live in Esquimalt and walk to work” said Brown. “We’re trying to offer the people of Greater Victoria an alternate way of living.”
With a plan for stores, restaurants, banks and a large courtyard, the village is expected to be buzzing with activity once completed.
“You can walk to work, you can walk to all the amenities, and your local shopping is here and there’s transit,” said Brown. “I think it’s part of a trend, people living close to their work, living in higher densities.”
The development of the Esquimalt Village project is crucial to getting Esquimalt’s downtown core revitalized,” said Brown.