Here in Sooke we have just completed another great exercise in democracy as the community has chosen the people it wishes to represent them on council and the school board. The Sooke Region Chamber is proud to have played a part through its sponsorship of the all-candidates debate which saw over 400 citizens offer questions and critique to all those running for the offices of the mayor and council.
At the chamber we were particularly pleased to note that the ambitions expressed by most of the candidates reflected the issues that are important to chamber members. Issues such as: urban renewal of the downtown; improvements to Highway 14 and promotion of the attraction of the community for more than its natural beauty. Many election discussions centred on ways to make things easier for our existing small businesses and the importance of attracting new, sustainable and appropriate businesses to provide high quality employment and spread the tax load.
During the election, one candidate had mentioned that, “Sooke is the region’s best kept secret and the trouble with such a secret is that no one knows you’re here.”
If the community is to manage our economic development in line with the chamber’s and the district’s objectives, we must now develop a promotional strategy to spread the word about Sooke; including its attractions, environment and low home prices. We have to roll out the welcome mat to the kinds of development that we need in order to expand our infrastructure, our recreational, arts, educational and cultural services. The message must be that ‘Sooke is open for business.’
As we prepare for the growth in population that will surely come, we must now build needed mechanisms and strategies, (including finding the financial resources), that will ensure we design and control needed new developments in all aspects of the economy. We need a plan to identify and attract the post 55s. Studies show that every incoming household of this group leads to a first-year investment of more than $350,000 in housing and services.
The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce has gone through a complete restructuring over the past year, re-purposing its mission and setting targets in all areas of the economy. With a new council in place and a commitment to move ahead on long-delayed projects, the chamber is excited about a new partnership for the benefit of the community.