What amenities could materialize with a $17-million improvement in the Township of Esquimalt?
That’s the question the township will ask residents as it looks to decide how to spend amenities package funding it will receive in exchange for allowing construction of the region’s wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.
“We want the public to really weigh in before we make any decisions,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.
In February, the township and the Capital Regional District signed a five-year host community impact agreement that will see Esquimalt receive a one-time cash contribution of $17 million.
On Monday, Esquimalt council gave first, second and third readings to bylaws to establish three reserve funds: $7 million to improve waterfront parks such as Macaulay Point, Saxe Point and Gorge Park; $5 million to improve recreation facilities such as the Archie Browning Centre and Bullen Park, and $5 million to improve emergency services and public safety facilities.
The next step is for staff to send out a request for proposals to engage in community consultation.
Desjardins said a number of projects have come to council in the past, such as the construction of a kayak dock in the area, and repairing the wall around the Gorge Park, which could be completed with the funds.
“We’re expecting to see lots of wonderful ideas. The hard part will be narrowing it down as to what rises to the top,” she said. Many projects that could potentially be funded through the reserve funds would have otherwise resulted in a tax increase, she added.
The township will be under a time crunch for using the money. As part of the agreement with the CRD, the funds must be allocated and projects moving forward within five years. Consultation is expected to begin this fall with decisions on spending the funds coming by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, construction of the 108 megalitre/day plant for the tertiary treatment of much of the region’s wastewater is already underway.
Site preparation is estimated to wrap up in August, and concrete pouring and drilling will continue. Drilling for the cross-harbour undersea pipe between McLoughlin and Ogden points is also in the works, with the overall project on track for completion in 2020.