I have lived in Sooke for over 10 years and I recently had the opportunity to voice my opinion when public input was sought regarding a strategic plan for our community. Listening to what was put forward I felt those elected have laid a solid footing regarding fiscal responsibility and they intend to concentrate on the downtown core and the sidewalk issues which do need to come first. But I also felt unsure of what the focus is going forward.
My wife and I have been fortunate to travel widely in Europe and North America. The communities that were doing well all had something unique or a focus, whether it was art, antiques, cultural, recreational etc., a brand so to speak. Chemainus and its famous murals and theatre are a great example of branding a small town.
I don’t believe our community is looking for big box stores, major industry or manufacturing and I think we are already a jewel with so much to offer. So, what if we renamed our community Sooke Harbour? That says something already, making us stand out; and we could focus on the West Coast experience. We are adjacent to Victoria, and unlike Tofino and Ucluelet, we are nearby to it all. Maybe the Prestige could join in with the look, a little cedar and maybe the front pillars could be new totem poles? Our art shows, symphony concerts, etc., already draw people in.
Where we once hosted the International loggers sports days we could establish something new on a marine theme.Our new sidewalks and streetscape design could incorporate our West Coast and marine focus rather than be the same old cookie cutter design. Maybe an orca or minke whale skeleton in Ed Mcgregor Park or on the marine boardwalk. We already have the salmon interpretation centre and the Jack Brooks Hatchery, maybe the hatchery could be relocated to the Sooke flats as a major draw or a fish ladder around the Potholes to open up spawning grounds and make a viewing station for the public. I realize many have likely worked on these ideas before, and have faced opposition. We are the quintessential West Coast experience and have so much to build upon; we are a natural jewel in the ruff. Does anybody else agree? Or maybe you could offer what your town would look like going forward.