Affordable housing, food security, and enhancing Esquimalt Road are some of the top issues residents want addressed over the next 10 years, according to city officials.
Esquimalt council recently invited public input on changes residents want to see in their community as the city prepares a draft update of the official community plan. Affordable housing policies presented at a workshop earlier this year form a significant part of the review.
Mayor Barb Desjardins said housing and density are generating the most feedback. As a “built-out” municipality in a core area, she says the city needs to look at densification to grow, including allowing secondary suites.
“We’ve also had some shift in attitudes about density,” Desjardins said. “I think that the community messages that are coming back are [that] they really want to continue to have that feel of Esquimalt being its own community within a larger community, but recognizing a value of the regional (growth) as well.”
Food security is another issue, according to Desjardins. The plan could include community and boulevard gardens so residents can grow their own food.
As for Esquimalt Road, big changes may be in store.
Bill Brown, director of development services, said the design guidelines for the road revealed earlier this year are an important component of the community plan to make travelling down the main street a more “beautiful experience.”
New developments, building set backs to create wider sidewalks, burying hydro lines, road paving, street furniture, and relocating bike lanes off Esquimalt Road are some changes proposed.
“Parts of it were pretty ugly, to be frank,” he said. “Council is pretty aware that Esquimalt Road is not very beautiful.”
But it’s not all just about looks. Brown said higher buildings are needed to focus density in transportation corridors to encourage use of public transit and commuters from the West Shore to settle in town.
The next public input session will be in the fall. An updated draft plan is expected to be completed within six months.