English Inn general manager Jay Smith is opening the doors during renovations for the community to see the progress of Aragon Properties’ redevelopment of the Esquimalt landmark. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

English Inn offers public tours of Esquimalt redevelopment

General manager wants to clear up miscommunications and gather community input

With renovation at the English Inn well on its way in Esquimalt, the general manager is inviting curious minds to come view the progress, providing free daily tours of the project.

Each weekday from 4 to 5 p.m. visitors can find Jay Smith wearing a hard hat and armed with a flashlight, touring the public through the heritage property, which is being redeveloped by Aragon Properties. Smith said he kept hearing the same refrain from neighbours: “we just don’t feel we had enough input, we don’t know exactly what’s going on.”

“So I thought – why not just show them?” he said. “I’m getting a lot of feedback, which is great.”

The tight-knit community of Esquimalt has been active in the development process, providing input at council meetings and protesting the use of adjacent Hither Green park for an emergency access route.

“I get it,” Smith said. “We want to be good neighbours. This is a great community and we want to be a part of it.”

Aragon’s plans for the property include renovating the existing main building, built in 1906, expanding the basement to accommodate weddings and other events, and constructing 180 condominium units. An additional building with 14 more hotel rooms and a spa are also in the works.

But, go see for yourself. The tours take groups of six through each floor of the main building, detailing the history and offering a glimpse into the future.

“We want to be a quality project and we want to be a community hotel,” Smith explained. “For us, it’s all about legacy, environment and community.”

Smith plans to run the tours until Dec. 5, with plans for more as the project continues. If you’re interested in seeing the process from the inside out, RSVP to jsmith@englishinn.ca.

For those wishing to offer input on the project, council will hear a variance request at its Nov. 27 meeting, starting at 7 p.m. at the municipal hall.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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