Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins can already see herself armed with a golden shovel and wearing a hard hat.
She plans to be present when crews demolish the old municipal hall and tired public works buildings between Esquimalt Road and Carlisle Street, to pave the way for a new village core in the township.
“People will know it’s going forward, that it’s not going back on the shelf,” Desjardins said of the demolition.
The buildings could come down in early spring or summer, once the demolition contract is tendered in early May at the earliest.
A public hearing will be held at the end of the month or in early April before Esquimalt council decides to rezone the land from institutional to mixed residential-commercial use.
This is critical to attracting interested parties who may want to lease or buy the land or sections of it, or even enter a partnership with the township. Given today’s economic realities, Desjardins expects something will be built on the site within the next two to five years.
The potential for the space is enormous
“It’s key to so many things,” said Coun. Randall Garrison. “We really need this.”
The village core design includes a seven-storey mixed-use building, a 12-storey condominium and a pedestrian walkway through the middle that leads to a town square beside the municipal hall at Esquimalt Road.
There will be room for residential, office and retail space as well as cultural and civic purposes, possibly for a new children’s museum, and the Esquimalt branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, which has outgrown its ground-floor space at the municipal hall.
A hotel could also be included in either of the two multi-storey buildings, making it the second hotel in the township, but the only one in the core.
By creating population density, new businesses will be attracted by growing numbers of residents and customers.
“It makes much better use of our existing infrastructure, while pulling in a lot of additional tax revenue to support the things we already do in the community,” Garrison said.