Esquimalt mayoral candidate John Roe says he swims in the Gorge Waterway most afternoons, having spent the better part of 20 years helping to make sure it’s safe to do so. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Esquimalt mayoral candidate John Roe says he swims in the Gorge Waterway most afternoons, having spent the better part of 20 years helping to make sure it’s safe to do so. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

‘Gorge Guy’ hangs his hat on mayoral race in Esquimalt

Longtime environmental conservationist John Roe determined to fix Township’s aging infrastructure

For over 20 years, John Roe has been dedicated to keeping the Gorge a clean and thriving waterway, but finding a lack of support to properly address the contamination issues, the Esquimalt resident has decided to run for mayor of the Township.

“It’s beyond their scope of understanding,” Roe says, pointing to Esquimalt council, led for the past 10 years by Mayor Barb Desjardins, who is running for re-election this fall.

RELATED: ‘Gorge Waterway a jurisdictional whack-a-mole,’ says Gorge Tillicum president

The crux of the problem has always been the aging infrastructure in Esquimalt, Roe explains, noting it was built to support just 3,500 people.

A series of haphazard attempts to patch or piece together new pipes has led to a system now bursting at the seams, he adds. “We leak so badly … It’s appalling and we’ve known since 1998.”

RELATED: Esquimalt mayor takes another run at re-election

Roe, who founded the Veins of Life Watershed Society, also worked as a review officer with the federal Ministry of Environment in the early 2000s. He served as president and founding director of the Victoria Wooden Boat Association, was director of environment for the Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society and a director with the Victoria Green Challenge Society.

Over the years, he has requested engineering reports and found the Township currently has no policies on storm water drainage.

Roe estimates a complete upgrade of the system could run at least $70 million. He proposes putting some of the amenity funds from the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant project toward that cost, pending a minor change to a CRD bylaw.

RELATED: ‘It’s pretty embarrassing:’ Winnipeg aims to put less poop in river

“I want to use that $17 million gift on underground infrastructure, not on bouncy castles,” Roe says. “Esquimalt pays millions more per year than most cities to connect its sewage and storm water to the main trunk; that number could be brought way down.”

If handled his way, Roe is confident the amenity funds could be leveraged to bring in millions more in grants. “When you give me a million dollars, I [leverage] it into three, that’s what I do.”

The mayoral candidate estimates another 25,000 people will call Esquimalt home in the next 50 years, more than doubling its current population, just shy of 18,000 people.

“Yes we need more housing, but the housing we need is not being targeted to low-income families here,” he says. And while renters make up the majority in Esquimalt, they don’t always vote, he adds. “They can’t afford these condos.”

As for actions, Roe supports installing more stop lights, lowering speed limits, working to restore the Takata Japanese Garden in Gorge Park and working to bring business back into town, suggesting that zoning be amended to allow for live/work spaces.

“That’s what builds a community,” he says.

@kristyn_anthony

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

BC municipal election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria dine and dash brings $230 fine

Group paid the bill, police locate suspect who violated provincial restrictions, mistreated staff

file
Oak Bay resident bilked $3,300 in puppy scam

Three cases of fraud reported in two days

Sidney’s Star Cinema has temporarily closed as part of efforts to COVID-19. (Black Press Media File).
Sidney’s Star Cinema temporarily goes dark

Closure reflects provincial health order in effect until Dec. 7

Victoria police are asking for help locating Jordan Doddridge who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VicPD seek help locating man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Jordan Doddridge has an extensive criminal history including violent offences

Mandy Farmer, CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, was given the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Excellence Award on Wednesday evening. (Provided by Deepa Pillay)
Accent Inns, Hotel Zed CEO earns prestigious award

Mandy Farmer wins RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Excellence Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read