Sooke population drop raises questions

Survey shows population in Sooke needs access to more services

Mayor Maja Tait

Octavian Lacatusu

Sooke News Mirror

A recent survey shows Sooke lost just over a hundred of its citizens in the last year, while Langford gained more than a thousand. This isn’t by any means startling, but the odd question remains:

Where have all these folks gone?

Well, they certainly weren’t abducted by aliens; at least, we hope not. In fact Sooke Mayor Maja Tait believes the reasons behind the township’s minor drop in population are evident: lack of easy access to services could be a deterrent for some considering to live here.

Or, as she notes, “do we have enough?”

“Finding daycare was a challenge for young families in Sooke… is that still a problem, well, I’m not entirely sure,” she said, adding that proximity and cost for locals to important services could play a big role in all of this. “Geographically-speaking, seniors with health challenges may also find it difficult because we’re far from readily-available medical services.”

And it’s not just the basics, Tait says; given all the natural wonder on the island, making it easier for both citizens and locals to see and travel around is equally an important factor. In Langford’s case, this could very well be true.

“Langford has done extensive work to create a liveable community in terms of recreation services, parks and trails, so I think sometimes it can go beyond just an affordable house when you have parks and trails right outside your door,” she said. “We should consider doing this as well, because we do have an abundance of unique areas – like redeveloping the bike park, for example, or remediating the playing field. We need to promote all the wonderful things about our community.”

In retrospect, the numbers aren’t all that bad: Sooke’s population was steady at 12,390 in 2013 and dropped to 12,257 in 2014 by -1.19 per cent decrease. Comparatively, Langford bloomed by 3.99 per cent, bringing its total of 33,390 in 2013 to 34,677 in 2014.

Others like local real estate agent Shayne Fedoshyenko, say that it is more than just the lack of comfy amenities that are scaring potential citizens away from Sooke.

“It’s the taxes. They are way too high,” he said. “People ask, ‘why would I come out here in Sooke and be 35 minutes away if I can buy a house closer to Victoria with the same price and not have to deal with Sooke Road or any of the commute.’”

Fedoshyenko notes that while houses can be bought for almost the same kind of money, there is something to Sooke that is rather special: its vast availability of space and nature.

“From East Sooke Park to Port Renfrew, each person averages around two and a half acres of parkland with all the trails accessible right from their own back yard,” he said. “Where else around here would a regular buyer be able to afford such a thing?”