CFB Esquimalt’s Blue Boat cancellation sparks parking concerns

Esquimalt residents and defence personnel tout need for solutions

Esquimalt resident Thomas Wybert stands along Lyall Street against a backdrop of a full CFB Esquimalt parking lot. He worries that the cancellation of the Blue Boat will prompt defence personnel who can’t find space in the base’s lots to park on residential streets.

With the potential for hundreds more vehicles to flood the area around CFB Esquimalt after the base’s Blue Boat ferry service is cut April 30, Thomas Wybert is bracing for more parking problems.

The longtime Esquimalt resident, who lives on Lyall Street not far from the main base parking lots, has long complained about defence personnel taking up residential side-street parking spaces.

“It’s going to get worse,” Wybert said. “Somebody’s going to get hit here because half the time when you come down a side street you can’t see because there’s trucks and everything else from dockyard parked there.”

But civilian defence and military personnel say they don’t have a choice, and are worried about competing for spaces with more vehicles starting in May.

“If you try to park from 7:35 a.m. on (and) unless there are at least two ships at sea, there is no parking,” said one navy wife, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most base parking spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are 1,935 spots along Canteen Road, Lyall Street and at Signal Hill in Esquimalt. There is a mix of 503 assigned and general parking spots at Naden.

About 5,500 personnel work at CFB Esquimalt, though not all are employed at Naden and dockyard.

“I think parking is something that we’re always concerned about, in terms of being able to support the requirements of the workforce, because we know there are more vehicles than (parking spots),” said navy Capt. Craig Baines, commander of CFB Esquimalt.

A private cross-harbour ferry, park ‘n go busing and a carpool matching service are the focus of discussions at the base.

“Internally in Esquimalt we’re being challenged and the challenge is going to keep adding pressure, parking-wise, traffic congestion-wise,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

The recent creation of a full-time bylaw enforcement officer position will help address parking violations, she said.

Darrell McLean, who retired from his inspector’s post at the Victoria Police Department’s West Division in Esquimalt last October, started work on Monday.

“That’s good news,” said Wybert. “If they have a bylaw officer and come around like they used to do … I think it’s a good idea.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

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