I recently visited Iceland. I recommend it highly and there are several observations and comparisons to Esquimalt I would like to put forward. I travel always with the eye of what does my destination do well, how do they live, are there things we could learn from and adopt at home.
Iceland has a total population of 330,000, the relative equivalent to CRD. Most of this population lives in the capital city of Reykjavik. This is a country of mainly barren landscape, lava fields, snow and mountains. There are few trees, birch being the natural tree and spruce being added although not plentiful. Both are short in stature. Truly not comparable to Esquimalt in this natural environmental way . It is the spirit and the pride of the Icelandic people we met that makes me compare it to Esquimalt.
They have truly taken their destiny in their own hands, to be sustainable, environmentally conscious, and caring for their population.
On one of our tours we learned that until the mid 1950’s most Icelanders were farmers living in yurts. Tourism is now the significant economic driver, farming second to the economy. Tourism has been well planned to reach out to both the European continent and the North American continent. The option of cheap flights as part of the second leg of a journey with a stop and stay at Iceland is what brings many of its tourists. Farming is significant because of the geothermal ability to grow peppers, tomatoes, vegetables and even crops like bananas.
Esquimalt is developing its own home grown tourism with community groups. Esquimalt Bucanner days were the first, bringing people from all over who just want to have fun and dress like a pirate for the weekend.
Township Community Arts council continue to add events to its repertoire of music in the park, Bard across the Bridge, Art in the park and Township Classics. People are coming from all over the region. Our Esquimalt staff look to add events each year and in the past few they have been Rock and roll in Bullen Park, bringing people from all around to our Community. We can’t forget Ribfest bringing international tourists, from Port Angeles by the bus and ferry load. We are learning to take advantage of the small things to make gains in the visits to our community.
Our farmers market not only is another draw to our community but it has created significant interest for people in Esquimalt to garden, and produce for ours in the community as well.
But the pride and care of community is the most comparable between our community and Iceland. This pride shows in Iceland through the tour guides talk, and from the folklore. Esquimalt people are what make our community special too. We have pride of our past, working together today and always for a better future.
I can’t miss an opportunity to mention that both Esquimalt and Iceland love Gnomes. As you see gardens bloom this spring, watch for these friendly additions to many Esquimalt Gardens!