We hear a lot about how Sooke should be developed, and the subject is stimulating many conversations. It’s not a new subject, of course, but it has been ongoing for many years.
Our image today, taken from the Sooke Mirror of May 3, 1978, illustrates a plan being discussed when Charlie Perkins was the regional director for the Sooke Electoral Area when he worked alongside a handful of Sooke folk who were elected to an auxiliary advisory group called Sooke Forum Council.
The perennial questions – Where should development take place? and What should development look like? – may not have begun seriously until the mid-1970s when John Page was president of the Sooke/Jordan River Chamber of Commerce.
Perkins promoted a plan that Sooke area buildings should be designed in a Spanish motif to recognize Sooke’s period when Spain held this land, approximately 1790 to 1794.
In 1790, Spain’s navy, under Sub-Lt. Manuel Quimper entered Sooke harbour on Princess Royal and claimed the land for Spain. The Spanish design idea was not well-received by Sooke businesses.
Perkins was a lawyer, and when he served two terms in office, 1976 to 1979, following the term of Ronald Dumont, initiation of Capital Regional District planning was underway, with the first zoning bylaw put in place during his term.
Indeed, these issues provoked controversy throughout the community. As the illustration shows, a town centre was planned for the area bounded by Sooke Road, Murray Road and Lincroft Road. It was headlined the “Village Square.”
Voters in the Sooke Fire Protection District were asked to approve a levy to purchase several properties adjacent to the firehall on Sooke Road, built in 1958. The plan was intended to include several services, post office, RCMP detachment and library.
The vote failed, and planning discussions continue – 43 years later.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.