Esquimalt moves ahead with design advisory panel

Architectural expertise needed to offer professional critique

Esquimalt council is taking steps to create an advisory design panel for future building permits, and it may only cost it a catered lunch.

The township already has an advisory commission to review new building applications, but it lacks the technical expertise to make architectural recommendations.

“We have two geographers and a biologist on our panel currently. I cannot professionally critique an architect’s work,” Bill Brown, director of development services, told council.

The voluntary panel would be made up of architects – solicited through the University of British Columbia’s Architect Institute – as well as experts in heritage and possibly even crime prevention to advise on design features.

Coun. Tim Morrison expressed concerns about adding another layer of approval to new building permits, but Brown assured council the panel would run in parallel with current approval timelines.

“It will encourage quality work, and that is something that we seek,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

Staff will now draw up a bylaw for the creation of the panel, to be discussed at council’s next meeting Aug. 20.

Similar design panels are already in place in Victoria, Vancouver and other Lower Mainland cities.

dpalmer@vicnews.com