By Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins
The recent release of the census provides some interesting information about our community. Esquimalt had been a town that shrank in the last census.
The 2016 census took us forward with growth of 8.9 per cent. The census also shows that we have the greatest density in the Capital Regional District. This is significant for many reasons. Growth therefore has to be through infill housing and through greater building height. It also has to be through rebuild rather than development of open land. This has provided considerable challenge to development in Esquimalt because cost of development of open land has been more affordable.
In 2012 Esquimalt set out to change this. The first step was to hold round table sessions with all community sectors and within each forum a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis was done. Sectors engaged included education, business, shipbuilding and repair industry, development, arts and culture. A vast amount of information came from this exercise. The information was compiled into the Esquimalt Economic Development Strategy and was approved by council on Oct. 27, 2014. The strategy is comprised of 15 unique strategies targeting four focus areas for action: business attraction and retention, commercial and industrial revitalization, community image, and quality of life.
This strategy is a living document that will be updated annually as progress on the implementation of the four focus areas is made.
See more at esquimalt.ca/business-development/economic-development-strategy.
Coming out of this strategy have been the implementation of improved processes for business licenses and development steps. Esquimalt has implemented a revitalization tax exemption bylaw which is incentive to target redevelopment along Esquimalt Road.
Esquimalts growing arts and cultural events has been a significant boost to exposing people to the wonderful community of Esquimalt. Township Community Arts Council started with Music in the Park, the annual Arts Festival and Sculpture Splash and the Township Classics series. Ribfest attracts people not only from the region but growing numbers from Port Angeles. Our Esquimalt Farmer’s Market has won several awards attracting people from around the region to see what its all about.
Community is about the people and its about setting a path for success. Esquimalt is seeing its planning take shape, become action and growth is occurring. The census information bares this out.