This has been an incredible year for the Township of Esquimalt. Council established our strategic plan and priorities in early 2019 and have been working hard on delivering on these goals.
The $17 million McLoughlin Amenity Fund process is moving forward. Public input informed a council decision to provide a multipurpose building and fenced-in dog park at Gorge Park, and — funding allowing — a boardwalk along the seafront of Saxe Point Park for a total of $7 million. I envision the building including art and storytelling works that will honour the First Nation and also the Japanese cultures to whom this land is significant. The Public Safety Building is in progress as well, with request for proposals currently open.
Following the closure of a medical facility in Esquimalt in 2018, council began the important work of facilitating new health facilities in Esquimalt. We welcomed input from the public and local experts, specifically Dr. Eileen Peppler’s report and the ensuing community conversations at a town hall this past spring.
We have been working with the development community to consider the inclusion of space and options for amenities to entice family physicians to our community. I’m pleased to say that we already have one development offer a space and reduced lease costs. We will be working with Island Health and South Island Association of Family Physicians to determine next steps.
Esquimalt council has 1,400 units of new housing on the books, either in process or approved. In fact, more than 400 units are currently under construction. This growth gives Esquimalt significant opportunity for increased tax revenue and for new businesses and services to be provided locally, bolstering our community vision: “The Township of Esquimalt is a vibrant, distinct and diverse community for people to discover and belong.”
This was a banner year for events in Esquimalt with favourites like Buccaneer Days, Ribfest, Music in the Park, Esquimalt Art Festival, the expansion of the award-winning Farmers Market, Celebration of Lights and many more events drawing people from Esquimalt together as well as bringing people from outside our borders to enjoy our community. We welcomed Petapalooza and Indigefest in 2019 and look forward to these events and more happening again in 2020.
Council has also set new initiatives in motion for the next few years through working with SIPP (South Island Prosperity Project) to create an economic development assessment and business investment roadmap for Esquimalt. We also endorsed a Terms of Reference for the Climate Action Planning Project after earlier this year declaring a climate emergency. The plan includes a goal for Esquimalt to become a 100 per cent renewable community by 2050. A climate emergency report will be delivered early in the new year and will recommend immediate steps for the municipality to cut GHG emissions
Esquimalt is a community with passion and people who care for each other. I know 2020 will continue to give polish to what was referred to in the past as a diamond in the rough.
Barb Desjardin is Mayor of Esquimalt.