Readers’ letters: CRA scams to avoid, tourism, roundabout

Letter writers confront some of the issues of interest to residents

Kudos for roundabout

Lordy, it sure is easier to exit and turn left onto Sooke Road from the Evergreen mall since construction of the roundabout is ongoing. And, I believe it will after construction too.

About time Sooke council, and kudos to you for finally doing it.

Dave Morton

East Sooke

 

What will attract tourists to Sooke?

 

The problem with the relative lack of tourism in Sooke is not simply related to poor marketing and/or lack of communication between local businesses and local government.

Although there is local support for the notion of increasing tourism in Sooke, there is equal, or perhaps much higher support for actions, development and public spending that are of no interest to tourists and which discourage tourists from coming. These contradictory viewpoints are based on the lack of consensus about a future vision for Sooke. Like all communities, Sooke is changing – the question is what kind of changes would we like to see, or at least what changes do we want to encourage or discourage.

When the Official Community Plan (OCP) was being put together 6-7 years ago, there was a fair bit of discussion about this topic.  The compromise adopted in the OCP is for development in the core area (basically everything west of the river), and a continuation of rural characteristics everywhere else. Oh, and to make sure that no one gets left out, Council decided that Sooke should also be a thriving tourism centre combined with a well established visual and performing arts scene, and a food security hub.

The “growth and development” component of the vision is for even more car-oriented suburban subdivisions, at ever increasing densities. The vast majority of new Sooke residents are expected to commute to work each day, as is currently happening. Such a vision does require a huge public investment in infrastructure, such as new, bigger roads from  each new development, a sewer system designed for higher density developments, and the need for large recreation facilities (as opposed to small, neighbourhood parks and such).

But the  “growth and development” component of the vision has the effect of overriding other possible directions.  I mean, when was the last time you seriously planned a vacation in the middle of a suburban subdivision? And while it may be possible to use public funds to provide tourist attractions (e.g. more public access to the river and basin), this will never work while the vast majority of public funds are being used to meet the needs of commuters. Similarly, increased support for the arts and/or local agriculture could make significant differences in these areas, and could be of interest to tourists, this could result in reduced support for commuters and less demand for suburban homes in Sooke.

I think the various councils have picked which part of the vision they support ( “growth and development”)  and have consequently committed almost all discretionary public funding to be for the implementation of that vision. Fair enough – that is council’s decision to make. But they could at least be more upfront about these decisions – for example they could tell the Sooke Tourism Association that they are not going to support any plan to try to entice tourists to come visit Sooke’s new suburban subdivisions and fancy new highways through quiet residential neighbourhoods, nor can we afford to invest in any facilities or amenities that might be attractive to tourists.

Of course, council could decide that it may be time to revisit this issue. They may have noticed that there isn’t a whole lot of support for growth and development, to the exclusion of all else. Maybe, they’ll even conclude that it is possible to have is a compromise vision and implementation plan that results in a Sooke that is truly unique and special.

Other communities have successfully redefined themselves and have reset their funding and support priorities. The one common component of this reconsideration process is a complete and open dialogue with residents. When the plan is developed and supported by a broad cross-section of residents, then it is almost guaranteed to succeed.

Rick Gates

Sooke

 

Be aware of CRA scams

Today I received a call – supposedly from CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) – telling me that I owed money in back taxes – which I knew to be untrue. During the conversation, the caller (a man with a South-Asian accent) said that CRA were going to issue a warrant for my arrest.  I was shaken by his words … but was reassured by my husband that CRA never threatens to arrest people.

My husband thought immediately that this was a scam. I phoned the Sooke detachment of the RCMP who confirmed that someone was targeting 250-642- numbers.

I would like people in Sooke to be warned about this scam. The number that contacted me was 1-844-240-3116.

PS: The Anti-Fraud number in Ottawa does not allow anyone to report an incident. Frustrating.

Carol Mallett

Sooke