Sooke man envisions wishing pond for town centre

Proposal eyed near the new Vancouver Island Regional Library

The Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Big Ben, White House, among countless others, are standing landmarks that make a city, and a community, proud.

Sooke has its own too. Sookie Sam, the Logging Pole, Memorial Park, to name a few.

What if Sooke had an even bigger landmark, one that will be loved and carried on well into the future?

That’s a dream Paul Unwin of Sooke has had for years, but now he wants to swing it into motion with a big proposal: a wishing pond.

“We have an opportunity in Sooke to promote our community to the world and at the same time make our town more enjoyable for residents and tourists alike,” Unwin said.

“This is the gateway to the West Coast and our hope is that each passerby makes a wish for his or her upcoming adventure at our wishing pond.”

Called the Sooke Wishing Pond Legacy, Unwin’s sketches show a natural setting, along with a clock, and wooden sculptures of iconic animals from the area such as bears, cougars, wolves and birds.

His proposed location is in the vicinity of the planned new building of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, which is expected to be just off of Anna Marie Road.

The intention is not only to advertise Sooke’s natural beauty, but provide a visually-appealing and recreational centre for locals and visitors to enjoy. More so, Unwin says, it’s to create a legacy for generations to come.

“This could be a legacy thing, something that sustains itself, and something that people always maintain so it doesn’t go into disrepair,” he said.

Unwin’s experience with wood sculpting and landscaping goes back to his role as town gardener in Port Hardy, where he initiated several public art programs. As such, he noted there was a sense of pride locals had when their town looked pretty again.

“People weren’t vandalizing as much anymore, they were proud of their town.”

Location, size and complexity varies, though Unwin estimates the project would cost around $250,000, albeit he says he’s looking at the local public and council to see what they think of the idea as well.

Beautification and uniqueness is certainly important for Sooke going forward, but it all has its timing, noted Mayor Maja Tait.

“You want things that would encourage someone to get out of the car to walk and look at it, which what a lot of what our public works does,” she said, adding that focus recently has been more infrastructure and function rather than aesthetics.

“Things have been paused because we’ve been focused on the construction of Waddam’s Way, the roundabout and sidewalks.”

Tait pointed out that with any sort of project the District of Sooke always sends a call out to artists so that everyone has an opportunity to provide an idea, though process and public input is just as important.

“It’s always good to receive proposals on things, but for something this size, you’d want more public and council input,” she said.