Esquimalt seeks public input on building design

The Township of Esquimalt is taking steps to improve resident's well being, by designing buildings that foster social cohesion.

Esquimalt has received $10,000 in funding from the Ministry of Health and BC Healthy Community Society to conduct a study on improving multi-unit housing by making them a more social environment.

Esquimalt's Director of Development Services, Bill Brown, says people can often feel a sense of isolation in multi-unit housing.

He says they are looking for ideas for social spaces in these buildings to create a community feel.

"In this survey that we've just released, we're asking people 'Would you like a gardening space?', 'Would you like space for your pets?', 'Would you like a playground space for your children?'  So it's not only a design within the building, it's a design outside the building, and it's a design on the streets. How do we make our streets better designed to allow people meet each other, and stop and talk with each other"

The survey is the second phase of the project, they started with a series of focus groups in February and March.  They met with developers and designers, some people from the  social sciences, people from the housing agencies, people from CFB Esquimalt.  Brown says the initial ideas brought up in the focus groups include community rooms and Rec rooms, where people can hold parties, or hang out and play games with their neighbours.  Outdoor spaces were the most demanded though, with people asking for garden spaces, pet spaces, and rooftop areas in their future homes.

Brown says creating these spaces can be really beneficial for resident's mental health.  He says a lot of people feel isolated in their homes, and by designing the buildings in way that creates a more social environment can help combat loneliness.

"Loneliness is a horrible, horrible indicator of poor health, so we want to make sure we design buildings in every way we can within the constraints the municipalities face, to design appropriate housing to help defeat things like loneliness."

Brown adds that Esquimalt is becoming more dense, and more people are moving into multi-unit housing, so something should be done to bring people together.  He's asking people to weigh in with their ideas on improving housing, by filling in the survey.

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