If you haven’t spent much time in Esquimalt, you may only know it for the views along its main corridor. But venture off Esquimalt Road and you’ll find some incredible ocean views, quaint residential streets and lots of young families.
“So I like to be able to walk within five minutes the parks, the grocery store, the library, the pool, the rec centre, 15-minute walk to the beach from my house so I can’t really complain,” said Esquimalt resident Zoe Williams.
Williams moved to the town five years ago despite its rough around the edges’ image, she knew there was much more to the military town.
“We knew the community is tight-knit and really community-focused and really into supporting each other,” Williams said.
And Esquimalt’s mayor says it’s that sense of community, with the growth of popular events like Ribfest and the farmer’s market, that has been the driving force behind the town’s transformation.
“Over the last four or five years, the world has discovered the amazing community of Esquimalt,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins. “We’re now a place to come to from other communities and by visitors, known for our events.”
And with recognition comes population growth. With a more affordable housing market than many of its neighbours, Desjardins says the population is expected to increase nearly 30 per cent in just the next three years.
“For a lot of younger people, people looking to downsize or people looking for those blue-collar up and coming areas that’s where Esquimalt really fits in,” said RE/MAX Camosun realtor Kyle Kerr.
“There’s still a lot of untapped potential here. We see a lot of new projects happening along Esquimalt Road down in West Bay Marina area, so there’s a lot of great new infrastructure, a lot of small and local businesses are moving to the area so I think there’s a lot of great growth potential here in Esquimalt,” said Kerr.
And as all those people move in, revitalization of the downtown strip is slowly following.
“You’re starting to see within that corridor significant changes, even among the older buildings that are actually putting on new facades and upgrading,” said Desjardins.
For parents like Zoe Williams, the improvements are just an added bonus because the real charm lies in Esquimalt’s people.
“It’s our secret, really, I love it so much,” she said.