“We encourage a resilient and diverse economic environment”
The fourth priority of Esquimalt council for 2014-18 was in regard to our economy. This is not an easy task as we are both blessed and challenged by the fact that we have federal government, DND , and the graving dock as our largest employers. Blessed, because they create tremendous economy in the region. Challenged, because as their favour with the Federal government goes, so does the benefit to our economy. For example, within my tenure as Mayor the federal government was examining the divestiture of the Graving dock. Very little infrastructure work was done during this time and the viability of the west coast ship repair industry here was severely challenged. Divestiture meant uncertainty. Uncertainty can undermine infrastructure investment. The challenge for the Navy to grow and secure required infrastructure has also been a political football at the Federal level over the years.
There have been 2 significant decisions by government that have improved the future for these employers within our borders. The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy provided Seaspan with a significant contract to build ships for Coast Guard and the Navy. That program sees Esquimalt graving dock providing the work to the interiors of these ships and has secured steady work within this facility until 2030 and likely beyond I am told.
The second decision was the federal government (2015-16) committed to its ownership and development of the Graving Dock and with that, there has been significant infrastructure investment to ensure it will continue to be a westcoast resource for ship repair into the future.
Other contracts have since been secured such as Cruise ship refits work, Submarine fleet maintenance, and even work being done for New Zealand Navy vessels. The future looks very bright.
Esquimalt has considerable internal and regional potential to support and leverage the strengths of these industries. Esquimalt became a member of South Island Prosperity Project for these reasons.
In 2015 Esquimalt finalized our Economic Development Strategy. This roadmap can help us to achieve “a resilient and diverse economic environment” but we must proactively manage, and allocate resources in order for the strategy to achieve full potential.
Goundwork laid, Esquimalt’s future has significant potential economic development opportunities.