Esquimalt council was in discussion Monday night trying to decide the best way to spend an extra $17 million.
The money, known as the McLoughlin Point Amenity Reserve Fund, is from the Capital Regional District as a one-time contribution to the Township for housing the region’s wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.
After two rounds of public consultation over 16 months, Township staff compiled a list of the most popular options, divided into three categories: $5 million will go towards recreation facilities, $5 million towards public safety and $7 million for waterfront parks.
In the waterfront category, establishing a multi-purpose venue at either Saxe Point or Esquimalt Gorge Park were the top contenders. Exact specifications of the facilities were not yet clear, but would aim to make the venues more suitable for public events, or celebrations such as weddings.
Other top contenders included the addition of a Japanese tea house at the Esquimalt Gorge area, or a performance stage at Saxe Point.
Councillors were interested in learning about the feasibility and costs associated with making dog-related enhancements at Saxe Point or Macaulay Park, and also for enhancing the boardwalk at Macaulay Park to make it safer, while still maintaining a natural esthetic.
In the recreation category, the most popular idea was upgrades to the existing field at Bullen Park, including lighting upgrades, washrooms, and an outdoor track and artificial sports field. More indoor sports space at the Archie Browning Sports Centre was also requested, as well as additional multi-purpose space, art galleries and enhancements to the pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre.
An emergency coordination centre was the most requested option for the public safety category, followed by a request for more cultural space.
Township staff clarified that the $5 million was only specifically allotted for an emergency space which could not be continuously rented out, but could be used for temporary events.
A safe injection site or a needle exchange and disaster sirens and supplies were also floated.
Township staff will now further examine the possibilities before reporting back to council at a future date.
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