Sooke neighbours come together in compromise

Business owner works with neighbourhood to get development and variance permits approved by Sooke council

A Sooke neighborhood has gained praise from district council for its ability to work together.

Pure Elements Spa and Hair Salon on Goodmere Road hopes to build a new garden centre and greenhouse to add commercial retail space, but when the plan came before Sooke council a month ago, there were concerns from its residential neighbours over privacy, parking and drainage.

Now, those issues have been solved (for the most part) after Pure Elements owners Gwen and Edwin Fisher went back to their neighbours to find solutions.

Pure Elements sought a development permit and two variances from the district to create a wheelchair accessible outdoor courtyard, storage of rainwater for reuse in the garden centre. The variances are needed for building setback relaxation.

But when neighbours brought their concerns to council. The Fishers went to work to get approval from their neighbours.

The result? Twenty letters of support and one letter in opposition.

Pure Elements reworked its plan with the city by providing privacy screening, adding an additional parking space and alleviating the neighbours concerns over rainwater.

“It’s good to see this all come together. It was a community piece above everything else,” Coun. Ebony Logins said.

Coun. Kevin Pearson took the praise higher.

“This is a good example of when an applicant comes forward and is willing to work with [municipal] staff to come up with a proposal, but also what I heard was goodwill toward the neighbours and that’s really, really important to me.”

“There’s a community spirit out there that’s making this work.”

But while Pure Elements were granted its variances and development permits from council many issues still remain in the town centre over parking and drainage.

Mayor Maja Tait and chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan have been looking at those problems. Sullivan is expected to have a report for council soon.

“Parking is a very big issue in our community and something council must look at in the future to make sure these issues can settle down,” added Logins.