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

Just Posted

City stamps rezoning approval for Merridale Cidery expansion in Victoria

Owner expects doors open by fall 2019 in Dockside Green neighbourhood

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Two to hospital after University of Victoria sailing mishap

Wind gusts capsize boat of recreational club sailors

Victoria’s deaf community advocates for different sign languages to be recognized on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Transport Canada announces funds for pollutant clean up in Victoria Park, removal of abandoned boats

Contaminants at Laurel Point Park will be removed starting at the end of September

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Victoria resident barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Family, friends of B.C murder victim want killer sent back to max security facility

Group wants convicted murderer Walter Ramsay sent back to a maximum security facility

Most Read