Mayor Barbara Desjardins
Monday, November 15, 2021
Council Chambers, Esquimalt Municipal Hall
Welcome back! We started the year with significant restrictions including being unable to have members of Council or the public meet in person at Council meetings. We are excited and grateful to be able to welcome people back into Council Chambers and our facilities as we move toward the end of 2021.
In the midst of the pandemic the community and volunteer spirit continued and events like Buccaneer Days, Township Community Arts Council, Ribfest, and Esquimalt Community Arts Hub brought us together through creative resourcefulness.
2021 saw the opening of the town square project. With new neighbours added, Gallery Splash exhibits, and a coffee shop, we begin to see the extraordinary opportunity that a town square offers the community. There is so much more to be added with our library move, office space rented and the hope for a pub or restaurant to fill the commercial space in front.
Real estate and development interest remain strong in Esquimalt providing much needed housing options and opportunities as well as an increase in commercial space for further retail opportunities. Council has been, and continues to be, focused on adding a balance of options for housing across the spectrum of ownership and affordability. 2021 saw the addition of the detached accessory dwelling unit bylaw which allows another option for housing in our community.
Council is actively working with community partners like South Island Prosperity Partnership to keep economic development top of mind.
Growth of infrastructure to support our growing population is key. At the beginning of this term we knew that our patience would be tested by construction activity all around our community. Certainly in some areas this continues to be a challenge that will ultimately be our community opportunity. Thank you for your patience on that front!
Some examples of the Township’s own growth are: the Gorge Pavilion, which is due to open in early 2022, the library mentioned earlier, the start of the temporary fire hall and work on building our new multipurpose public safety building.
Our dedicated staff continue to care for and enhance our parks and natural areas through restoration work and beautification. If you haven’t stopped by to see the owl boxes at Saxe Point, I recommend you do.
We’ve had two rounds of public input opportunities on our Active Transportation Plan and hope to get a final report by the end of this year or early next year. With 30-40% of our population using active means of transportation this will be important to implement and enhance cycling and pedestrian transit. We appreciate everyone who took the time to share their ideas in this process.
Our long awaited Urgent and Primary Care Center is scheduled for completion in December and much needed medical support will be able to be provided within Esquimalt.
2022 will be a busy year for all as we close this term of Council. Our work on climate mitigation and adaptation, truth and reconciliation are important. COVID removed our opportunities to meet face to face with Songhees and Esquimalt Chief and Council but with the horrific discoveries at residential schools this summer now more than ever we need to educate ourselves and take guidance from First Nations.
We expect to see the business case for integrated resource management in 2022 so we can better understand its possibilities for reducing Green House Gases to meet our climate goals and provide energy and revenue for the municipality.
As we reflect on what we have achieved and accomplished in 2019-2021, I must express Council’s gratitude to staff for the significance of this work all on top of an ongoing and shifting Public Health emergency. I cannot overstate this gratitude for the ability staff have shown to move Council’s strategic priorities forward while ensuring health and safety of our community, residents, staff, services and events. Thank you.