Updated: Mar 12
Esquimalt’s Development Capacity
West Bay Residents’ Association Advocates for Development Capacity Report
Over the last few years, the “secret” about Esquimalt - that it’s a fabulous place to live – has started to get out. The things about Esquimalt that us locals have always loved – it’s proximity to the ocean and downtown and its community-oriented vibes, have caught the attention of would-be residents and developers alike. We can see evidence of this happening everywhere with single family houses being demolished to make way for bigger townhouse and multi-storey buildings.
This increase in density will have many benefits for residents, revitalizing the community and encouraging new businesses to move in. However, as more and more people call Esquimalt home, the Township’s infrastructure will have to evolve to keep up. For example, enhancements will be needed to our sewage systems, roads and parking as well as amenities, such as recreation facilities and parks. The Township will also need to consider whether developers should be asked to directly contribute to these costs. One way to achieve this would be to start charging developers ‘Development Cost Charges’ in exchange for approval of larger projects. Currently 23 municipalities on Vancouver Island make use of these fees.
In August 2021 Council approved a motion, tabled by Councillor Ken Armour, for the Township to procure a ‘Development Capacity Assessment’ report. This report would determine a process and tools to identify the carrying capacity of Esquimalt’s infrastructure and the implications of densification on those systems. Understanding these thresholds will provide an important decision-making tool for Esquimalt Council and inform residents regarding the impacts of future development decisions. The West Bay Residents’ Association has written to Council in support of this initiative, seeing it as an important step in ensuring that development occurs at a sustainable pace.
At its upcoming March 15th meeting, Council will determine if the ‘Development Capacity Assessment’ report will be funded in the upcoming budget. The West Bay Residents’ Association will again be writing to Council to support this initiative. And, the Association will ask Council to ensure that a broad range of physical and social indicators are assessed and that the report consider whether ‘Development Cost Charges’ should be introduced. It is the Association’s hope that this initiative will ensure that the many qualities locals love about Esquimalt remain resilient over time.