Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins fired off her first warning shot before the new township council had a chance to roll up its sleeves and begin work on its new term.
“There have been many concerns voiced about the in-camera meetings and lack of information,” Desjardins, who was acclaimed mayor in October, said during her inaugural speech after the new council was sworn in Monday night.
The speech pre-empted any attempts new councillors Tim Morrison and Dave Hodgins said they would make, if elected, to have the township’s policing report, detailing its RCMP preference, released.
Desjardins reiterated that council and the Esquimalt Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel are prevented from releasing the report by the Community Charter and confidentiality agreements with the Victoria Police Department and the RCMP, at least until the solicitor general makes a decision.
“We have conducted a process of integrity and high quality and we will see it to completion,” Desjardins told the large crowd that witnessed the township’s 47th council sworn in.
In her speech she also forecast a bright future for Esquimalt, which she said stands to gain from the $8-billion federal shipbuilding contract awarded to Seaspan Marine Corp. in October.
She pointed to four new businesses that recently opened, signalling optimism in the commercial sector, but said more effort is needed to implement strategies that would attract even more.
“These policies have not moved as well as I would have liked during my first term so I intend to be very focused with this goal in this next term,” Desjardins said.
The township’s future director of development services position will be altered “to include a strong economic development and tourism focus,” Desjardins said, adding this change will help give the township a more competitive edge. The current director, Barbara Snyder, is set to retire at the end of February.
Now that voters have indicated their support for moving forward with the concept to develop municipal square, Desjardins said she is hopeful there will be changes to the property within the next term.
“This is an opportunity for us to turn a liability into an asset,” she said.