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My vision for Esquimalt (from Chamber of Commerce All-Candidates Meeting)

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The Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce hosted an All-Candidates meeting last Thursday at the Esquimalt High School. We were asked to answer questions relating to business development in Esquimalt and make a 2-minute candidate statement. Here’s what I said in my two minutes about my vision for Esquimalt and its business development:

I want Esquimalt to articulate a vision of what we want to see – and I interpret a vision as being a bit more detailed than saying we’re a welcoming or engaged community – it’s what we see in our mind’s eye when we imagine Esquimalt in 5 to 15 years. I see a vibrant community of shops and businesses, with lots of people out on the street interacting with each other in our commercial areas. I want Esquimalt to be the place that our friends and colleagues from Saanich or Victoria bring their visitors to because it is a ‘must-see destination’ with diverse and interesting businesses that are unique and appealing. It’s a place of festivals and activities that happen year-round. We have a thriving arts sector, abundant housing and manage to maintain the diversity of people and incomes that has always been so special about Esquimalt. We’re a place where we do things together, not just talk about things.

We need to work with the business community to figure out how to actively build this vision- I’ve heard on the doorstep that people are worried that with recent residential development we risk becoming a bedroom suburb of Victoria where people leave during the day because they can’t find the services they need here and can’t find good jobs to keep people here during the day.

We need to take the Economic Development Strategy approved back in 2015, and run with it: update it, sure, but let’s get going and start making the policy and budget changes that it asked for. We’re a small township with limited staff so we need to be deliberate in what we choose to do.