What should Esquimalt do with $17-million amenity package?
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, March 25, 2019 10:05AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, March 25, 2019 6:32PM PDT
A performance stage? An outdoor pool? Perhaps a new playground or a boardwalk?
These are just a few of the public suggestions that will be discussed by Esquimalt council tonight as it gets closer to deciding how it wants to spend $17-million.
In January 2017, the Capital Regional District and Esquimalt agreed the township would receive $17-million as part of an amenity funding package for housing the region’s wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.
The one-time CRD contribution, called the McLoughlin Point Amenity Reserve Fund, is to be used for capital projects.
According to Esquimalt Mayor Bard Desjardins, $7-million is for waterfront parks, $5-million is for recreation facilities, and the remaining $5-million is for public safety.
Following two rounds of public consultation that saw 1,770 residents weigh-in, Esquimalt has now compiled a rankings list of what residents would like to see the money spent on.
The ranking is based on a series of selection criteria determined by council that includes considerations like a project’s environmental impact, funding implications, and the amount of public support a project received. Staff used the criteria to determine its ranking.
The top two waterfront park options, according to staff, are for Esquimalt to build a multi-purpose venue, either at Saxe Point or in Esquimalt Gorge Park.
Although it’s unclear what exactly a multi-purpose venue would look like, the mayor says there are people in the community who want the ability to hold weddings and events at those locations.
Other options for the waterfront park funding include spending money on the Japanese Teahouse at Esquimalt Gorge Park as well as looking at a performance stage for Saxe Point.
Washrooms, boardwalks, and picnic facilities were also on the list of options.
The number one option according to staff for spending funds on recreation facilities is to upgrade the field at Bullen Park. This would include upgrading the park’s lights.
Other options for Bullen Park improvements include washrooms, an outdoor track, and an artificial turf.
Spending money on indoor courts at the Archie Browning Sports Centre was second on the list.
Adding multi-purpose space, an art gallery and studio, and improving the aquatic centre at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre were also options that ranked high.
An emergency coordination centre is the number one option on staff’s list for public safety. Also included in the public safety options are an arts and cultural space, a community garden, and childcare space.
A safe injection site, needle exchange program and disaster sirens were also on the list but received the least amount of support.
Esquimalt council is scheduled to discuss the funding options at a meeting Monday night. This is expected to be the first step in determining what projects should be approved and sent to the preliminary design stage.
Desjardins says council could still send the list back to staff for further analysis and discussion.