Let the People Decide
-Esquimalt’s future direction becomes an exercise in democracy
By Tim Morrison
If you have wandered by Municipal Hall lately, you will have likely noticed that something is missing. Over the summer, our community’s old town hall was torn down. In its place, there is now a blank slate. The demolition was not without controversy. Local residents rallied a last-ditch effort to preserve the 82-year old building as heritage status. In the end, however, Esquimalt Council voted to do away with the structure that has mostly sat empty and neglected since opening our new Municipal Hall in 2003.
Esquimalt’s Village Core Plan envisions the site being replaced by residential-commercial buildings as part of a major revamping to our town square surrounding Municipal Hall and the library. Part of that plan calls for a residential building up to 12 storeys on a portion of the land.
The question before us as a community: Is this a positive or negative change for Esquimalt? Is this good for our community or not? Some in the community plead for the need to preserve the charm of our “small town” identity while others equally champion the benefits of a “revitalized” community. Essentially, that is the sentiment of a major but non-binding referendum question being posed to all Esquimalt residents in this fall’s upcoming municipal elections.
The exact referendum question will be as follows:
Are you in favour of the Township of Esquimalt adopting amendments to Official Community Plan Bylaw no. 2646 and Zoning Bylaw no. 2050 that would facilitate development of Phase One of the Esquimalt Village Plan which would include a mix of residential, commercial and civic uses in two buildings, one of which may be up to 12 storeys in height, on the site of the old municipal hall and old public works yard? YES or NO.
As responsible residents, we share an obligation to study the plan carefully, discuss it amongst ourselves in an open exchange of views, and decide democratically the best direction forward. Regardless of the direction chosen, it is important that we commit to move forward together, united as a community in either preserving our present or embracing our future. We all want what is best for our community and we all respect the democratic process. We have managed to get along with each other for an entire century and we will do the same for the next 100 years and beyond.
To learn more about the Esquimalt Village Project and to decide for yourself whether or not this is something you support, you can read the plan at this link: http://www.esquimalt.ca/municipalHall/esquimaltVillageProject