Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins headshot March 2021 (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Esquimalt aims to boost active transportation options

Public asked to identify improvements for active transportation opportunities

The wheels are in motion to improve active transportation options in Esquimalt.

The township wants to hear from residents about what they would like to see in the community.

The idea of active transportation goes beyond cycling and walking and includes any form of human-powered transportation such as skateboards and wheelchairs.

“Esquimalt’s central location and compact design is ideally suited for active transportation,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“We want to increase the ease and comfort of people traveling within and to our community by bike, foot and other active ways to foster our vibrant township.”

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Feedback will primarily be collected by an online platform where residents can find baseline information about Esquimalt, like population projections, current commuting patterns and other data. This will help provide context for where the township is now when looking to the future.

The website’s interactive tool allows people to drop pins on a virtual map to show areas that need improvement or exhibit gaps in the network. People can also contribute ideas for discussion by photo or text and remain on a digital board for others to view and build on. There is a question-and-answer section to allow common queries to be shared and responded to publicly.

The township’s 20.6-kilometre cycling network includes a mix of facilities: multi-use pathway (E&N Rail Trail), buffered bike lanes, bicycle lanes, and shared use lanes. From 2011 to 2016, the proportion of work trips made by bicycle increased from six to nine per cent, while commuting by vehicle decreased by two per cent. The total percentage of commute trips by active travel is 36 per cent, the second highest active travel mode share in the region after the City of Victoria.

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One of Esquimalt council’s strategic priorities is to support ongoing improvements to transportation corridors. The active transportation plan is intended to guide transportation options for the next 5-10 years and build on existing initiatives like the Esquimalt Pedestrian Charter.

The plan will be bolstered by feedback from stakeholder groups and neighbouring First Nations and municipalities as well. All information will contribute to a draft plan expected to go to the public for review this summer, and to council in the fall.

Find the feedback tool at EngagingEsquimalt.ca or email your input to engaging@esquimalt.ca.