To Grow or not to Grow? That is the Question.
Esquimalt is a community in transition. We take great pride in our community, but there is clearly a movement afoot to grow into a better place.
With a steady population of 17,000, we are a very comfortable size, not too big and not too small. We are nearby all the services of Victoria’s downtown core without the hassles that come with being a big city. We are a healthy mix of residential, commercial, and industrial development with plenty of open spaces.
We do, however, have our challenges. The need for more policing is often mentioned as a common community grievance. In the past, Esquimalt has been labeled as hard on the eyes and the “wrong side of the tracks” by Victoria’s snootier classes.
In reality, however, we are a beautifully green, peaceful community with thirteen parks encased by scenic waterways and fresh sea air. We are in the midst of an exciting new Village Project Plan, currently under study by Esquimalt City Council, which will further transform the identity and appearance of our community into a place we can all be proud of.
Growth is certainly not without controversy. Some argue that our streets, services and facilities are not equipped to handle a denser population. With more people, there is a possibility of more traffic and more crowded parks and busier community facilities. Developers would argue that they are able to improve our community by contributing some of their profits to a special community amenities fund as a qualifier for their building permits.
For those who have invested in owning their own properties, there is an incentive to see Esquimalt gentrify into more valuable real estate through new development and a better quality of housing stock. For renters, particularly low-income residents, there is pressure to keep Esquimalt affordable by maintaining our community’s traditional lower cost of living.
The issue of property taxes is always paramount. Our local politicians may see development as key to bringing much-needed revenue into our community’s coffers that help prevent the need for steep tax increases. We have great public amenities in Esquimalt and we have to pay for them somehow. Skeptics would counter that new development actually increases property taxes as a result of higher property assessments across the community.
Who is right? Who is wrong? What is the right amount of growth? What is the perfect balance? These are questions that we need to explore as a community.
Esquimalt Town Hall will be hosting two forums open to the public to tackle this topic – Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 and Tuesday, October 6th, 2009. Specifically, this will be an opportunity to discuss what heights and densities you feel would be suitable for those areas of Esquimalt designated for Multi-Unit, High-Rise Residential and Commercial Mixed-Use through an examination of our current Official Community Plan (OCP).
Workshop Dates and Times are as follows:
Saturday, October 3, 2009
9:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
7:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
More info is available at www.esquimalt.ca
Be sure to check out these meetings and have your community voice heard!