Posted by: Editor | June 19, 2011

It Takes a Village to Rage a Community

It Takes a Village to Rage a Community

-Esquimalt residents divided on the Esquimalt Village Core Plan

By Tim Morrison

Artist rendition of Esquimalt Village

For years now, Esquimalt has been talking and talking and talking some more about a revitalization of our community that would be centred on an Esquimalt Village Core concept located at the 1200 block of Esquimalt Road. The plan calls for a mixed use of commercial, residential, and community space that would surround Municipal Hall, and would involve tearing down the old Municipal Hall site and developing the Town Square directly behind the Esquimalt Library. Eventually, the plan envisions stretching west into the 1300 block and east into the 1100 block integrating with the existing Esquimalt Plaza.

After extensive and expensive consultant studies, Esquimalt Council invited local residents to a public hearing last month for some final input on the matter before proceeding with the plan.

The result was a jam-packed Council Chambers as residents from the surrounding neighbourhoods were extremely vocal in denouncing the project as the wrong fit for Esquimalt. Their opposition was chiefly focussed on the amount of density and traffic that would be generated by the inclusion of condominium towers that could range from eight to twelve storeys high.

 “I don’t need 100 condos looking down into my yard,” said local resident Gary Mullins, who lives directly across from the proposed development site. “It’s like parking a cruise ship in front of a house.”

For two hours, speaker after speaker lined up to voice their opposition, many of whom lived in the area that horseshoes the proposed development site.

Others from elsewhere in the community also spoke against the plan, arguing that it would destroy the small-town, quiet persona of Esquimalt.

“The proposed village concept is too big for our community,” said Tony Cond from Old Esquimalt Road. “We are strongly opposed to high-rise buildings in Esquimalt because they lack character and they don’t blend well with the community spirit.”

Cond also expressed concern about the municipality losing public lands to private developers and urged Council not to take on projects that create risk to taxpayers.

Council’s response can best be described as shell-shocked. Prior to the public hearing, all indications pointed towards a unanimous adoption of the plan. All previous Council discussions and votes on the matter had been generally positive with Council appearing quite eager to move on with the project. But, in the face of such vocal opposition, Council was taken aback and uncertain how to proceed before scrambling to pass a unanimous vote to postpone the issue “indefinitely”.

Residents who support the plan, however, are left feeling quite disappointed yet determined to not surrender.

Amy Higginbotham, a member of the Esquimalt Advisory Planning Commission, is leading a group of residents in support of the plan.

“The Esquimalt village plan creates a blueprint for a downtown core that we can be proud of, including new shops and services, a town square, pedestrian walkways and new housing,” says Higginbotham. “Hundreds of locals have had a hand in shaping the plan through four years of community consultation. It has cost the Township more than $200,000. I feel it would be a huge waste of our time and money if this plan is permanently shelved by Council.”

In a letter to Council, Higginbotham wrote: “It is unfortunate that this vocal minority have resulted in the suspension of a project that the community has been extensively consulted on and one that Council itself endorsed last October. I believe the present Council and Mayor were elected with a mandate to take action on revitalizing our township’s core. If the project is left in limbo heading into the November civic election, I fear that much of the work and expense undertaken to develop this project will go to waste.”

Higginbotham, who fits into Esquimalt’s young families demographic, has set up a Facebook page in support of the Esquimalt Village Plan and urges others to join her page at this link: “Save the Esquimalt Village Project” (Note, you need to be signed into your Facebook account to access the page).

While Esquimalt is divided on this issue, it is important that everyone’s voice is heard including those that oppose and support the plan as well as undecided residents who still have a lot of unanswered questions about the future of Esquimalt. As we approach the 2011 municipal elections this year, we all share a duty to learn more about the issues that are most important to our community. We all have voices and we must all be heard. Together, we can move forward as a community based on a consensus of who we are or who we want to be. Our identity will be determined democratically. The people of Esquimalt will decide what is best for Esquimalt. That is the kind of community that we strive to be.

To learn more about the Esquimalt Village Plan, click this link:  Esquimalt Village Project

Posted by: Editor | June 18, 2011

Potty Mouths

Potty Mouths

-Esquimalt residents join forces with scientific experts to educate all of Greater Victoria on Sewage Treatment

By Tim Morrison

CRD residents gather for Sewage Forum. May 26, 2011.

A very important regional forum recently took place in Victoria entitled “Understanding Wastewater Management in Victoria – Do we have the RIGHT plan?” The lead organizing of the forum was done by Esquimalt community volunteer Karen James, who serves on the Esquimalt Residents Association (ERA) Board of Directors.  James, along with other ERA Board members reached out to resident, community, and neighbourhood associations from all over Greater Victoria resulting in a highly successful grassroots partnership towards a better understanding of Capital Regional District sewage treatment.

Both Esquimalt Municipal Council and the Esquimalt Residents Association are opposed to the Capital Regional District’s plan to locate the region’s sewage treatment at a new $800-million facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. Scientific experts, including engineers and environmentalists alike, have decried the CRD’s plan as a short-sighted boondoggle that will accomplish little while adding a lot to everyone’s property tax bills.

While Esquimalt is firmly opposed to the plan for admirable reasons (most notably for defending the wise use of taxpayer money and the best protection of our environment), Esquimalt alone cannot overcome the CRD’s mad dash to steam roll the project into a complete calamity to the detriment of all the region’s residents.  

“This is an important regional issue, demanding a broad, grassroots level of engagement,” says Karen James. “It’s the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Victoria. It will add several hundred dollars to everyone’s tax bill for years and years. It is important to get it right! If we are to influence our municipal councils, and through them the CRD, we need to fully understand the options.”

So, Karen James did just that. She spent countless hours over the past six months networking with respected scientific experts in the fields of health, marine biology, oceanography, economics, environment, infrastructure engineering, and community planning. (The credentials of these experts can be viewed by clicking here). At the same time, James was also busy reaching out to the grassroots community leaders in neighbourhoods throughout Greater Victoria. She then realized she needed to get the experts together in the same room with the region’s residents. The result was a major success in citizen engagement and education.

Forum organizer Karen James welcomes grassroots residents.

“For the first time, citizens across Victoria had the opportunity to collectively explore more information about wastewater management from experts who have no commercial stake in the outcome, apart from being reliable taxpayers like the rest of us,” said James.

Through an open, interactive format, the panel of respected scientists shared their knowledge on such topics as:

 – Victoria’s marine environment and the impact of our current and proposed systems

–  Human health concerns with the current and proposed systems

 – Resource recovery opportunities and sludge disposal concerns

–  The effect of present and proposed regulations

–  Economic and social impacts including independent cost-benefit analysis

–  Specific recommendations regarding the best environmental bang for the buck.

Despite diverse backgrounds, the expert panel shared a common assessment that the CRD plan on sewage treatment is severely lacking in the smart use of technology and taxpayer money.

It is important to note the CRD was formally invited to participate and to explain the science behind their decision-making and the merits of their plan, but they opted not to attend. While the panel seat reserved for the CRD remained silent, their absence spoke volumes about their disrespect for taxpayers as well as the level of confidence in their plan. We are left to agree with the independent experts that the CRD plan is not the right plan.

Now, it is up to Greater Victoria residents to take that message to their municipal, provincial, and federal politicians who control the funding for the project. CRD Sewage Treatment is a high-stakes project, jointly funded by all three levels of government. Decisions need to be based on long-term smart policy, not short-term politics. Before delivering a billion dollars of our hard-earned money towards sewage treatment, our politicians at all levels need to be better informed of the science related to Greater Victoria’s current sewage treatment and the best steps forward for enhancing that system.

Start by watching this very informative video by clicking this link here: Greater Victoria Sewage Treatment Video. Then, forward this video to your friends and colleagues throughout Greater Victoria. Forward it to your elected officials including municipal councils, provincial MLAs, and federal MPs. Together, we can become smarter with our sewage treatment and with our tax dollars. It’s not too late to save our future! It’s not too late to flush the CRD Sewage Plan down the toilet.

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Laura Barnes and Ken Gustafson

By Tim Morrison continues a featured series entitled “These are the People in Your Neighbourhood“. In this edition, the Esquimalt Review profiles local business leaders Laura Barnes and Ken Gustafson of Esquimalt Plaza’s Serious Coffee. If you would like to contribute a community profile about an individual, group, organization, or business in Esquimalt, please send your ideas to Tim Morrison at

Serious Coffee: Waking up Esquimalt!

Who provides Esquimalt’s favourite source of community caffeine?  Laura Barnes and Ken Gustafson are the co-owners of Serious Coffee at Esquimalt Plaza. The two business partners are proud proprietors of one of Esquimalt’s most preferred hubs for coffee and conversation.

Esquimalt’s Serious Coffee has been a success largely because of Laura and Ken’s strong roots in the local community. Prior to moving into Saanich, Laura was a long-time Esquimalt resident, raised her family here, and was active with the local school Parent Advisory Councils.

“I have made many friends in Esquimalt and, although I currently live in West Saanich, my heart is drawn by the desire to move back to the area one day,” says Barnes. “I am glad that our business is in Esquimalt as I continue to build relationships with the people here. It is a fantastic community with access to the Rec Centre and the ability to walk to almost anywhere, even downtown.”

Ken Gustafson agrees with roots that stretch deep in Esquimalt.

“I was born in Esquimalt and have lived all but a few years here,” says Gustafson. “I am a grad from Esquimalt High School. My father was in the navy for 25 years and my parents still reside in Esquimalt. My three children have also attended school in Esquimalt.”

Before putting their ideas and dollars together in coffee, Laura spent two decades with the Vancouver Island Health Authority in a variety of professional roles while lawyer Ken has worked at a Victoria law firm for over 27 years with a particular flair for advising small business owners.

“Our families had become close over the years as our children were friends in school,” recalls Barnes. “I had expressed a desire to change careers. Ken would suggest opportunities, but none seemed to be quite the right fit. Then one day he called and said ‘why don’t you go into the coffee business with me?’ It was very exciting as the View Royal location was about to launch and Esquimalt had been open nearly a year with great community support.”

That community support runs both ways. Local customers buy loads of coffee and, in turn, Laura and Ken return some of their profits back into the coffers of local projects. The local coffee franchise is a regular supporter of many of Esquimalt’s community events and fundraising efforts.

Serious Coffee's Laura & Ken supporting Esquimalt

“Serious Coffee is a Vancouver Island-owned and operated business. That means we are local and we support initiatives that bring funds back into our community to support community,” says Barnes. “Some of the initiatives that we have supported over the past year have included the DND United Way Campaign, Westcoast Welcome, Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers Fall Fun Rally, Jeneece Place, local school/community events and a variety of other fundraising groups.”  

Upcoming initiatives include supporting a local Tour de Rock rider in efforts to raise funds to fight childhood cancer. Support is also being provided to local DND Firefighters in raising funds to attend the World Police & Fire Games in New York, an exciting event for our military-based community.

“We have tried to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere at the coffee shop so that people will chose to make it a meeting space,” adds Barnes.  “We have an upstairs mezzanine that customers can reserve free of charge if they have a group that would like to make use of it.”

So, how are revenues doing and how has the experience been for operating a business in Esquimalt?

“We have amazing customers and that is what makes our business a success,” says Barnes. “I love how personable people are. They share their day, good or bad, with us and we hope that somehow we make it brighter.”

“We feel very supported by our customers. We certainly want to let them know how much they are appreciated,” emphasizes Gustafson. “For any business owner, it is a constant struggle to try to improve sales while keeping costs under control. Certainly, I would be happy to see a tighter rein on taxes and a better understanding of the significant impact this can have on local businesses. I understand that municipal costs continually rise but how do we, as business owners, recover from these additional expenses?”

Next time you pop into the Plaza for a coffee, be sure to ask if Laura or Ken are around for a chat about their favourite topic: Esquimalt.

“I believe Esquimalt still remains a jewel embedded in Victoria,” says Barnes. “It is beautiful, with great waterfront and local parks, easy community walking…especially the boardwalk that travels along the inner harbour. Personally, I would love to see more community events that bring the members of our community together in a social setting. I really love the Light Up parade and Buccaneer Days!”

“I have fond memories of the Buccaneer Days ‘Wakey Wakey’ vehicle making its rounds,” adds Gustafson.

 A fitting comment for two positive business leaders of the community that play an important role in helping Esquimalt residents with waking up every morning and staying awake throughout the day. Next time you need your caffeine fix, drop by Esquimalt Plaza’s Serious Coffee and do your part to support Esquimalt. Our community will be the better for it!

Posted by: Editor | June 10, 2011

Mayor’s Monthly Musing for June, 2011

Are prospective homebuyers giving Esquimalt enough consideration? If not, are we doing enough as Esquimalt residents to spread the many positive aspects of living in Esquimalt? This month, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins reports on Esquimalt’s efforts to revitalize itself and to attract new residents to our very special corner of the world.

Mayor’s Monthly Musings by Barb Desjardins

Honk if you love Esquimalt!

Mayor Barb Desjardins

In the past month, we have seen the landscape in Esquimalt change more than in the last three years. It is exciting to see the Carlton Place development break ground, the Admirals townhouses rising, and the Craigflower and Tillicum townhouses framed and taking shape. Does this mean the economy is improving? My sources in the engineering world often speak of housing development starts as a positive indicator for the economic climate. If this is so, in Esquimalt, we are moving in the right direction.

However, there are those doubters I still hear from that say that the housing projects that have recently been completed are “not sold” (this is my term, the naysayers say they are “empty”). Local real estate is still a fragile and a buyers market. People have choices, so why Esquimalt?

To the doubters, I would say: How are you helping your community? We proud Esquimalt people can play a role in the marketing of our community and filling those buildings with new Esquimalt residents who will become as fiercely, proud Esquimalt residents.

Toot your Esquimalt horn!

We must tell the world why we live here. We are the greatest ambassadors for our community.

Esquimalt is rich in services that many communities wish they could have. Our parks are within walking distance of any residence in Esquimalt. Our recreation facilities and library are known to be of the best within the region. Esquimalt is a safe, accessible, friendly community.

You are the ambassadors of Esquimalt. Toot your horn every time you talk to a visitor, or to other regional residents. Take a realtor to lunch, toot your horn.

Those buildings will fill up and the community will be enriched.

Toot your Esquimalt Horn!

Barb Desjardins

Mayor, Township of Esquimalt

(To provide input on this topic, email Mayor Desjardins at or post a comment on this blog).

Join Mayor Desjardins on FaceBook at this link.

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Colin MacLock

By Tim Morrison continues a featured series entitled “These are the People in Your Neighbourhood“. In this edition, the Esquimalt Review profiles local resident and artist Colin MacLock and his passion for heritage. If you would like to contribute a community profile about an individual, group, organization, or business in Esquimalt, please send your ideas to Tim Morrison at

Colin MacLock: An Established Artist in a Budding Community.

With its picturesque land and waterscapes, Esquimalt is a fitting home to an active artistic community. One of our local professional artists is West Bay resident Colin MacLock who operates a business in illustration and restoration.

“Illustration is everything from painting large murals to cover art for novels,” says MacLock. “Restoration involves restoring old paintings, antiques and that old ship model that’s still in your closet.”

Esquimalt artist Colin MacLock

MacLock arrived on Vancouver Island decades ago to study art history at the University of Victoria. He fell in love with the region and in love with his partner, Wendy Stevenson, and together the two of them eventually settled right here in Esquimalt. “We moved to Esquimalt to buy our first family home in an area conducive to childraising, general beauty and real neighbourhood ambiance,” recalls MacLock. “We have since lived in this old Edwardian home on Wollaston Street for 18 years. My first community involvement here was joining the fledgling West Bay Residents Association in the early 90’s. The major issue I got involved with was to stave off a massive development of the Salvation Army lands, known later as Matson Lands, and eventually facilitating the means of saving the Garry Oak slopes.”

MacLock also went on to become one of the founding members of the Esquimalt Lantern Festival, an annual festival enjoyed by thousands. In Esquimalt, MacLock found a place where he could combine his passion for art with his devotion to community service.

His list of contributions over the years includes planning the selection and placement of public art at Municipal Hall, Town Square Planning Committee membership, launching an initiative to bring a large part of the Four Core Art industry here by spearheading the Work Point Arts Project (a plan for reuse of the decommissioned old Officer’s Mess and Quarters at Work Point Barracks).  He has volunteered countless hours on Esquimalt’s year-long Visions Committee that brought us our community’s present Vision Statement. He was instrumental with the municipality’s Cultural Advisory Committee in creating our public art policy, and more recently, he is a leading member of the Heritage Advisory Committee that has just presented Esquimalt’s first comprehensive Heritage Policy to Council.

“Culture and heritage continually play a role in my community involvement. The first is foremost, as I am a professional artist.  I see the potential of Esquimalt for artists to set up shop here as the gentrification of urban Victoria has been forcing them out,” says MacLock. “This, of course, competes constantly with the less creative vision recent Mayors and Councillors have as proponents of the ‘high density syndrome’. I have long felt that if Esquimalt ‘encouraged’ the arts to settle here, like the recent bid by the Victoria College of Art to restore the Old Town Hall, things could get a lot more creative around here.”

“I have helped bring the college to the forefront and encourage a shift in thinking toward our Esquimalt Village Plan after I saw the postage stamp size area the plan allotted to public performance space. I also remember that the Old Town Hall is the only heritage building the Township owns, and with our Centennial coming up, it is ironic that at this time, key heritage is being attacked with threat of demolition,” warns MacLock. “A good planner would have included the heritage building in the Esquimalt Village Plan.”

“Army heritage is almost non-existent when one thinks of Esquimalt, but believe it or not it is as big, and in some cases, bigger than the Navy’s,” suggests MacLock. “I launched an awareness campaign in the form of a ‘History of Work Point’ slide show, showing its roots to west coast defences and B.C. joining confederation, highlighting well known figures like James Peters, Sir Arthur Currie, Andrew McNaughton, and George Pearkes, all of which have streets or buildings named after them.”

“I recently attended a Tourism Victoria presentation that unveiled the importance of placing attention to military heritage places as a future investment for tourism,” adds MacLock. “Presently, I am working toward saving the Work Point Guard House, Macaulay Point installations, and other historical sites. Getting our Township’s website to include our rich military heritage is also in the burner right now.”

MacLock’s extensive community involvement combined with his deep appreciation and undying advocacy for local art, heritage, and history serves as an important reminder to all of us to pay closer attention to what defines us as a community and the need for our local leaders to champion the connections to our past.

“As for the future, an election this coming fall will be like none other we have had, and my feelings are that it will be a wake-up call for any incumbent that thinks it is business as usual,” predicts MacLock in referring to a battle currently brewing over the future development of Esquimalt as we approach the 2011 municipal elections.

Colin MacLock cares deeply about Esquimalt, as do many of us. As a small community, we are fortunate to have a great talent and diversity of people with a variety of viewpoints. Some see Esquimalt already as ‘a work of art’ worthy of preservation while others see it as a blank canvas ‘work in progress’ in need of some enhancement.

 One thing that we can all agree on, however, is that Esquimalt is a natural masterpiece enjoyed by those of us fortunate enough to call it our home.

If you would like to become involved in supporting Esquimalt artists, culture, and heritage, contact Colin MacLock at

Posted by: Editor | June 6, 2011

Councillor Gaul: Say it Ain’t So…

Councillor Gaul: Say it Ain’t So…

– Esquimalt’s favourite municipal councillor won’t seek re-election

By Tim Morrison

The community of Esquimalt just won’t be the same after the dust clears this fall following the municipal elections. Councillor Ali Gaul, first elected in 2008, announced recently that she will not seek re-election. She is leaving for admirable reasons to concentrate on family and her career in the health sector.

Coun. Ali Gaul steps down, but not out.

A founding member of the Esquimalt Residents Association, Gaul is credited with having led the charge to save our cherished Archie Browning Sports Centre and in mobilizing hundreds of local families into paying closer attention to the actions of Municipal Hall. She is articulate, thoughtful, and speaks with depth, common sense, and intelligence.

Her ears are as strong as her voice. She always listens to the community, contemplates carefully on input and makes her decisions based on extensive homework that often includes several hours on the phone with anyone that wants to be heard. She is well-respected and an effective communicator. Her impressive leadership skills and knowledge displayed in her so-called “rookie” term have led many residents to view Gaul as a possible future Mayor of Esquimalt.

In officially announcing her decision to step down, Gaul stated: “In April of 2007, I stepped to the microphone in Council Chambers for the very first time. That day, I made a promise to my community to be involved in decisions affecting me and my family. That hasn’t changed. I will still be a familiar face in Chambers. I will just be sitting in a different chair. Esquimalt will continue to be the place I am proud to call my home…and I will always care about what happens in my home.”

“Above all, what I hold close, are the friendships and relationships that will be lasting reminders of this intense time in my life. Ties strengthened and forged under pressure that I will always treasure. Thank you for sharing this journey with me,” concluded Gaul.

Meanwhile, Mayor Barb Desjardins, Councillor Meagan Brame, and Councillor Lynda Hundleby have all confirmed they will seek re-election. Councillors Don Linge and Bruce McIlldoon have yet to publicly announce their intensions. Councillor Randall Garrison recently resigned to become the new Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. As for new Council candidates coming forward, the Victoria News is already naming names in an article at this link:

“I do want to reassure everyone that I will continue to work hard for Esquimalt until the end of my term and far beyond,” promises Gaul.

The election will be held on November 19th. Regardless of who makes up the new Council, Esquimalt Municipal Hall will sorely miss the consistent wisdom, work ethic, and willingness to listen that defines Ali Gaul as a true leader of our community. While she will no longer be in politics, she will still remain a loyal and active resident of our fine community and we will continue to be the better for it.

Editor’s Update, June 9th, 2011: A few days after this article was posted, Councillor Don Linge officially announced that he too will not be seeking re-election. Linge, a lawyer, is the longest serving member of Council and is widely respected for his wisdom, sharp analytical mind, calm demeanour, and extensive experience. Like Gaul, Don Linge’s leadership on Council will be sorely missed.

Posted by: Editor | June 5, 2011

Yo-ho-ho, and a Bundle of Fun!

Yo-ho-ho, and a Bundle of Fun!

– Buccaneer Days is a time to celebrate Esquimalt

By Tim Morrison

Arrr, Matey! Yo-ho-ho, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for Esquimalt to strut its stuff, to show off our community spirit to ourselves and visitors alike. No public event defines Esquimalt bigger, better and more fun than our legendary Buccaneer Days. It is one of those community-wide celebrations that has something for everyone, from our youngest kids to our most seasoned seniors and all of us that fall somewhere in between.

Taking place this upcoming weekend of June 10 to June 12, this has become our community’s tradition for kicking-off the start of summer. This year’s events include a seniors’ barbeque, pancake breakfast, parade, beer gardens, food fairs, various sporting events, children’s activities, craft fair, community dance, a free movie night and even a pie plate/sky diving contest just to name a bit of what will surely be remembered as fun, fun, and more fun.

For a full review of everything that is planned and a schedule of events, click this link: Esquimalt Buccaneer Days and start planning your participation in one of the most fun aspects about living in Esquimalt.

Esquimalt is great place to live. We are a seaside people with a strong affection for our maritime setting. We cherish our home. We celebrate our community. And, that is the whole point of Buccaneer Days! Check it out and discover (or rediscover) the treasure that is Esquimalt.

Posted by: Editor | May 2, 2011

Third Time Lucky for…..Garrison

Third Time Lucky for…..Garrison

-Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is the last riding across all of Canada to declare a victorious MP

By Tim Morrison, Posted 11:30 PM, Monday, May 2.

Two days prior to the election, I had predicted that today’s election in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca would be a very, very close squeaker, but that the NDP’s Randall Garrison (the only candidate from Esquimalt on the ballot) would end up victorious (see post below). It appears that my predictions came true. Just moments ago, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca had the honour of being the very last riding across the entire country to declare a winner.

For the earlier half of the evening, it looked like DeSouza was headed for victory with a consistent lead in the count, but as more and more results poured in, Garrison pulled ahead for the latter part of the night.

Garrison twice hosted Jack Layton in Esquimalt

It is likely that it was our very own community of Esquimalt, where Garrison serves as a high profile municipal Councillor, that made all the difference for Garrison. While DeSouza concentrated his campaign on a McKenzie Overpass promise that meant nothing of importance to the people of Esquimalt, DeSouza may have benefited in the West Shore polls but alienated Esquimalt voters.  Our small township has no commuting problems into downtown Victoria and were left feeling dissatisfied by constant talk on that topic. We wanted to hear real discussion on real issues affecting our community and our country.

Garrison’s uphill battle was made even more difficult by a surprisingly strong showing of the Green Party that captured nearly 9% of vote, well above the Green’s 3.9% national popular vote. In the end, it was the total collapse of the Liberal vote that likely put Garrison over the top as many local Liberals voted strategically for Garrison in order to defeat DeSouza. The Liberal vote share spiralled from over 34% for Dr. Keith Martin in 2008 all the way down to 10% for Lillian Szpak this time around. The voter turnout for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca was 66.2%, well above the national average.

The final results, as reported by Elections Canada moments ago, were as follows:

NDP’s Randall Garrison: 26,198 votes (40.9%) 

Conservative’s Troy DeSouza: 25,792 votes (40.3%) 

Liberal’s Lillian Szpak: 6,409 votes (10.0%) 

Green Party’s Shaunna Salsman: 5,351 votes (8.4%) 

Independent’s Louis James Lesosky 181 votes (0.3%) 

CAP’s Christopher Robert Porter: 145 votes (0.25%) 

Total number of valid votes:   64,076

As of tonight, it remains unsure whether or not there will be a recount. Garrison’s victory, however, is considerably above that of Dr. Martin’s 68-vote margin in 2008. In other news, our neighbouring riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands made history tonight by electing Green Party leader Elizabeth May in a convincing victory (with nearly 50% of the vote) to become one of Vancouver Island’s newest and most famous Members of Parliament.

Editor’s Update, May 3rd, 2011: Elections Canada has now officially declared Garrison as the victorious candidate by a margin of 406 votes over DeSouza. The results have not been challenged and no recount has been deemed necessary.

Posted by: Editor | April 30, 2011

Third Time Lucky

Third Time Lucky

Will it be DeSouza or Garrison that we send to Ottawa?

– By Tim Morrison

The Conservative’s Troy DeSouza and the NDP’s Randall Garrison are about as politically opposite as you can get. One is firmly on the right while the other equally firm on the left. But, one commonality the two aspiring MPs share is that both ran twice before against populist Dr. Keith Martin and both are the only two opponents that came closest to defeating our respected but retiring Member of Parliament (see riding history by clicking here). One certainty is that this time around, it will be third-time lucky for one of the two men, but the question still remains as to which one?

When the federal election first kicked off over a month ago, my initial instincts were that the Conservative’s Troy DeSouza would win in our highly competitive riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. But, things have changed. During the past week, it has been said many times that no one expected this Jack Layton surge and it is has also been said that this sudden surge is something much more than a passing blip in the fickle world of politics. So, what does it mean locally for us as Esquimalt voters?

Garrison: can he pull it off?

My political junkie cohorts, from across the country, have been calling and emailing, asking for the local scuttlebutt of what is going to happen in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Apparently, we are one the most closely watched ridings for all of Canada. The nation’s eyes are on us, so much so that we were singled out for a public opinion poll by OraclePoll Research this past week that indicated a statistical dead heat between DeSouza and Garrison. The scientific poll reported 40% for DeSouza and 35% for Garrison with the Liberal’s Lillian Szpak a distant third at 15% and the Green Party at a higher than expected 10% showing. While the vote-splitting on the left appears to be benefitting DeSouza with a 5% lead, the margin of error is +/- 5%, which means DeSouza could just as easily be behind Garrison by 5%. More likely, the two candidates are about even. Depending on whether or not Liberals and Greens switch their votes, the final victory could go either way.

DeSouza: has the MacKenzie Overpass been overplayed?


On Monday night, it will be another certain nail-biter as election results pile in from across our vast riding that stretches from Saanich through Esquimalt and up beyond the West Shore.

Pundits from across the nation are still predicting DeSouza will edge out a victory based on how close he came last time, but I am no longer convinced of that. The whole “McKenzie Overpass” strategy has been too overplayed and likely peaked more in the last election than this one. My gut feeling tells me that it will be Esquimalt’s very own Randall Garrison that wins in a squeaker, with the “Jack Layton factor” making it happen. The fact is that voters in our neck of the woods tend to root more for the “common man” than the government establishment. We have voted for the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance, etc, in the past not because we are a right-wing riding, but because we are populist protest voters. Prior to the rise of Dr. Martin, our region voted heavily NDP as part of our “little guy” anti-Ottawa sentiment. Provincially, the communities of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca are solid NDP strongholds with all the on-the-ground organization that goes along with that. Add to the mix the recent fine-tuned machinery that local NDP leadership candidate John Horgan has handed over to the Garrison campaign and you begin to see how a path is being cleared for Garrison to be the one that will be third-time lucky.

 Like a lot local voters, however, I am still uncertain how I will vote on Monday. The question I am grappling with is whether or not Harper deserves to be rewarded and trusted with a majority and whether or not the NDP qualify to be put into a position where they can conceivably lead a coalition government? As residents of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, the nation is telling us that our votes in our swingiest of ridings will have more of an impact in deciding the above question. While that’s a lot of pressure, it is also an important reminder of why we must turn out to vote. The nation is waiting to hear what we have to say…and we should take that anticipation very seriously.
Posted by: Editor | April 23, 2011

All Politics is Local!

All Politics is Local!

-All four Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca federal candidates join forces in flushing CRD Sewage Plan down the toilet

By Tim Morrison

There is a famous expression in politics that, no matter what level of government candidates seek to represent, everything always goes back to the motto: “All politics is local”. It basically means that a politician’s success is directly tied to an ability to understand and influence the issues most important to constituents’ concerns within their own community. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Esquimalt during the 2011 federal election.

CRD Sewage Plan?

First, some background. Going back a few years, the provincial government directed the Capital Regional District to fully revamp Greater Victoria’s current sewage treatment system. As part of that direction, both the provincial and federal governments agreed to each contribute $250 million towards the billion-dollar project. The remainder of funding would be paid through local property tax increases of about $400 per household per year for long into the future.

In 2010, the Capital Regional District adopted a plan that would place the CRD’s sewage treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. Last summer, the provincial government approved the plan. Since then, several months have passed and both the Province and the Feds have delayed putting each of their cheques in the mail. Meanwhile, Esquimalt Council has officially opposed the plan, pointing out the project’s many short-sighted economic and environmental pitfalls as well as the fact that Esquimalt was never properly consulted.

“It’s a bad deal and a long-term burden for taxpayers, and there are several serious problems with the McLoughlin Point location, including the fact that 400,000 tourists travel pass this location every year, and that the site is not expandable,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins at the time.

Within a mere couple of decades, the proposed location’s size will no longer meet the needs of the region’s growing population. New sewage facilities will again need to be constructed at different locations at additional giant costs to future taxpayers. The site is also far too limited in size to allow for any resource recovery, which is the best possible system for the environment and that helps pay for itself by converting sewage into green energy sources. Read more at:

All hope is not lost, however. The project cannot proceed until the partnership funding is finally delivered by both the federal and provincial governments.

Hence, surveyed all four of the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca federal election candidates this week to find out just where they stand on the issue. The responses were shocking. All four candidates finally found an issue that all four of them fully agree on: the current CRD sewage plan is the wrong plan. All the candidates clearly indicated that the McLoughlin Point plan will not work and that the CRD must reconsider their plan in order for it to have the funding support of whoever becomes our new Member of Parliament. Essentially, the candidates are spanking the CRD and sending it back to its room to teach it some respect for the people of Esquimalt and for taxpayers all across the region.

Here are the survey results from the four Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca candidates:

 Do you support the current CRD Sewage Treatment Plan to locate the CRD’s sewage treatment at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt? All four candidates answered “NO”.

 What is your position on the current CRD sewage treatment plan that has been approved by the CRD and is awaiting committed federal and provincial funding of $250 million each?


Candidate: Troy DeSouza (Conservative):

Answer:  “I believe in sewage treatment. I do not believe that this is the best location for this sewage treatment plant. I also have concerns with the plan to truck the sludge 18 kilometers. There needs to be further discussion on this issue in consultation with the community.”


Candidate:  Randall Garrison (NDP):

Answer: The federal government should support sewage treatment in Victoria but must ensure that the plant we build is the most modern and environmentally sound possible.  It must maximize resource recovery both as a contribution to sustainability and also to generate revenues to help defray operating costs.”


Candidate: Lillian Szpak (Liberal):

Answer: “I think we need to make sure that we have the right sewage treatment plant in the right location. That means consulting widely, addressing concerns and making sure that the region’s future needs are considered. When a decision is made, the plan – and the reasons behind it – should be communicated clearly, so that everyone understands what will happen and why. I think there’s a real opportunity for incorporation of some innovative technologies (heat and energy capture and production, for example), and those should be taken advantage of.”


Candidate: Shaunna Salsman (Green Party):

Answer: “This is not a sustainable plan for the future! Unfortunately, we need more forward thinking when investing in such an infrastructure. I do feel we should be treating our sewage, but there are many other more advanced technologies we could be utilizing. This is just another bad plan by our government to feel good about our environment.”

When asked for comment on the candidate survey results, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said: “I am pleased the candidates all agree this is the wrong plan. I am also pleased that the candidates acknowledge that consultation and work with communities should occur.”

Take that, CRD! You have failed to serve the best interests of taxpayers, the best interests of the environment, and you have done this without any proper consultation with the people that it impacts most.

But, the CRD does deserve credit for achieving the impossible: uniting all four federal candidates in one of the nation’s most competitive constituencies.

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