The Sooke News Mirror gave the candidates for District Council the opportunity to outline who they are and what they see as priorities for Sooke. They were also asked why people should vote for them.
Here’s what they said.
Megan McMath was born in Maple Ridge but has lived in Sooke since she was four years old. She is an EMCS graduate and currently works in the Sook tourism sector where she said she takes pride in promoting Sooke and all it has to offer.
She said that Sooke needs managed economic growth, full of our own employment options. She also wants to promote tourism and ventures that highlight the regions “incredible natural resources”.
Her priorities are accessible local healthcare, a balanced approach to growth while preserving Sooke’s distinctive nature and a push for affordable housing.
McMath said that she is intent upon listening to peoples thoughts, ideas and passions and that she will bring a positive, energetic and open-minded approach to issues.
Beddows has lived in Sooke for 28 years and is currently the President of the Sooke Lions Club and the Regional Historical Society (Museum), as well as being the Treasurer of Sooke Minor Fastball and a volunteer at the Sooke Foodbank.
Beddows is retired after 25 years as Manager of Communications with the Dept. of National Defence.
He said that, with Sooke growing at a rapid pace, it is important to manage growth in an intelligent manner. He points to Sooke’s infrastructure and says that it has not kept pace with development.
Beddows is calling for an alternate route through Sooke and the twinning of the Sooke Bridge.
Finally, he said that a multi-service medical centre and a new seniors centre are both important aspects of his election platform.
Beddows said that he wants to work together with residents and fellow councillors for the betterment of Sooke.
Long-time Sooke resident, Herb Haldan sat as a District Councillor for two terms (2008-2014).
Since that time he has been active in community affairs, appearing several times at Council on a number of issues.
Haldane has promised to create affordable co-op housing on District land–a development that he envisions including a seniors’ building and a youth drop-in centre.
He has also worked to change the zoning bylaw to allow for tiny homes and other alternatives to make houses affordable.
Finally, Haldane said that sewers need to be expanded to cover the Whiffin Spit area and the Billings spit area.
“I am a tough but caring individual that wants what is best for all Sooke people. Our town needs stronger leadership and with my experience in both business and the local political landscape I have the skills to make things happen and to voice the concerns of people,” said Haldane.
Jeff Bateman and his wife live in their dream home on Whiffin Spit Road. A retired journalist, he is the volunteer president of Transition Sooke and the EMCS Society.
Bateman came up 24 votes shy in a 2014 bid for council and is making another attempt at the position this year.
Asked about his priorities, should he be elected, Bateman said that it’s time to press pause on the rapid growth of Sooke while refocusing on the District’s master plan (OCP).
He wants to responsibly oversee the fundamentals of governance and work closely with the Corporate Administrative Officer to manage a variety of District responsibilities.
Finally, Bateman wants to encourage a respectful, positive and evolving relationship with fellow councillors, community organizations and other stakeholders.
“I’ve become increasingly fascinated by municipal business since I began tracking council at the start of Mayor Milne’s administration and I learned much about myself and Sooke during the 2014 campaign. I’ve continued my apprenticeship by regularly attending meetings and serving with the District’s Climate Change Action Committee and its Community Centre Advisory Committee.
Brenda Parkinson moved to Sooke in 2003 and was elected to the District of Sooke Council in 2005 and re-elected in 2014. She holds a Bachelor Tourism Management Degree from the University/College of the Cariboo and have been appointed as a Marriage Commissioner since 2008.
Parkinson is a Board Member with both the Sooke Harmony Project and the Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society. She also volunteers on the Sooke Legion Poppy Committee.
The main priorities for Parkinson are ensuring a well-planned development of sidewalks, accessibility and affordable housing.
She plans to work toward a revitalized inner town core and will advocate for Highway 14 improvements and the development of an alternative route to Sooke.
“I have the desire, motivation and passion to serve our community and I will continue to act on your issues and concerns and move forward with the best interests of the community in mind,” said Parkinson.
Rick Armour previously served on Council in 2005-2008. The 56-year-old Sales Representative for Lordco Auto Parts Ltd. has lived in Sooke for 24 years and worked at Lordco for 21 years.
Armour has a long history of volunteer work in the community from the Cops for Cancer/Tour de Rock Chair, Safe Halloween Committee Chair and Vice President of the Sooke Canada Day celebrations. He was also the SEAPARC Commissioner and responsible for the Youth Drop-In centre at the Community Hall.
A priority for Armour is to see the vision of the Official Community Plan better utilized including better access for pedestrians and cyclists throughout our community as well as revitalizing the waterfront and improving access.
He says that honesty, integrity and transparency are all important to him and would guide him in his actions as a councillor.
Jeff Stewart is a lifelong Sooke resident who works as the store manager at Western Foods and served on the inaugural District of Sooke Council upon incorporation in 1999. He has two children aged 12 and 15, and has coached his children in Juan De Fuca Lacrosse and Sooke Soccer for the past decade.
Stewart’s goal is to give the taxpayers of Sooke a voice in regards to fiscal responsibility and value for taxpayer dollars.
“I think the biggest issue for the next council is to deliver value for our property tax dollars. Financial responsibility, accountability and transparency are paramount,” he said
He also feels that the municipality need to stick to the core values of our Official Community Plan and our Zoning Bylaw to guide the development priorities in the
Finally, he sees an alternate route to Highway 14 as a major priority.
“By supporting my bid for Council, you will be electing a fiscally responsible, progressive thinking municipal Councillor,” said Stewart.
Tony St. Pierre
Tony St. Pierre is a local farmer at Cast Iron Farm Co-op.
St. Pierre holds a Master’s in Rural Planning and Development and has more than 20 years experience with his own renovation company. He has recently worked as an employment counsellor in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and cares deeply about local business and the availability of low-income housing.
Managing growth and development is a priority for St. Pierre and he calls for municipal staff to have the tools and clear guidelines they need to do their jobs with confidence and a minimum of delay from the council.
He feels strongly about maintaining Sooke’s rural character as well as its fantastic sense of identity and community spirit.
“Sooke needs local businesses owned by locals and providing long-term local jobs. We need truly affordable housing so that people working in Sooke can live here as well. We need an economic development officer, mixed-use zoning, office space for telecommuters, more retail space, continued beautification of the Town Centre and waterfront development,” said St. Pierre.
Phil Rossner is a 17-year resident of Sooke and a retired production/quality assurance manager. For the last 30 years, he has worked with Amnesty International, International Red Cross, Victoria Intercultural Association and The Sierra Club. He currently volunteers with
Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants & Refugees and as President of the Board of Directors. He is also founder/videographer of an ongoing video series, “Sooke Reflections”.dia as well as at sookereflections.net.
Rossner’s priorities for council include the support of sustainable environmental practices and the use of alternate energy technologies.
He advocates the support of small business while taking a long, hard look at the acceptance of any large retail stores.
Finally, Rossner said that affordable housing is a priority for him and that new housing options need to be explored.
”My managerial and NGO experience has been all about inclusion – always being open to suggestions and recommendations put forth by all stakeholders and really listening to what
they have to say.”
Doni Eve grew up in Sooke, the fifth generation of her family to live here. Her volunteer experience includes the Sooke Community Association, Sooke Region Museum, Sooke Region Volunteer Centre, Sooke Fine Arts, All Sooke Arts and Crafts, Sooke Writers’ Collective, All Sooke Day, Sooke Arts Council, Sooke Minor Hockey, Sooke Minor Fastball, Steps to the Future Child Care Society, Ecole Poirier Elementary.
She is the former editor of Sooke News Mirror and, for the past 26 years, has worked for the Province creating programs and materials for seniors, youth and parents.
Eve’s priorities for Sooke include affordable, supportive & rental housing for seniors and families and social housing for those who are most vulnerable.
She advocates concentrating growth in the core sewer service and the creation of a better dialogue and meaningful engagement with Sooke residents, organizations and businesses so actions & spending reflect their priorities.
“Sooke is at a pivotal juncture, facing tremendous pressures with growth. I will work to ensure District actions reflect and honour the values that built this community. Our beautiful community charms visitors, welcomes new residents and encourages us to stay. I want to ensure our children, grandchildren and generations to come to continue to enjoy the reasons we call Sooke home,” said Eve.
Rick Kasper has lived in Sooke for 26 years and raised his family here. He is a retired bricklayer and stone mason who served on Sooke Council 2005-2008; and 2011-2018.
He has also served on the provincial Industry Training Authority board and was a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the region 1991-2001. As Sooke councillor Kasper chaired former Finance and Administration Committee, supported infrastructure improvements to increase safety, improved traffic flow and added sidewalks in the downtown area.
Kasper’s priorities start with establishing more affordable housing for youth, families and seniors.
He cites the need to get back on track with plans for better infrastructure.
“We were off to a great start after 2014 with the completion of the roundabout and new sidewalks. In early 2016 we saw the opportunity to purchase five acres at a bargain price in the downtown and secured this land for important community facilities including a new library and potential for a seniors/youth centre and affordable housing,” said Kasper.
” There’s still a lot more work to do for Sooke. I will continue to work toward creating a vibrant, progressive community, without losing the qualities that attracted us to live here in the first place.”
Ebony Logins was born and raised in Sooke and elected to Sooke Council in 2004. She graduated from EMCS and went on to obtain a degree in Tourism and Recreation Management from VIU. She moved to Vancouver, Vernon, and Kelowna before returning to Sooke in 2012.
Logins works as a Community School Coordinator for SD62, and mentors women in photography internationally.
“Sooke is 19 years old – we have the same characteristics as a teenager moving into young adulthood. We are aware of our past and Logins said that the next council has a big job ahead of them and will need to improve its policies and bylaws, connectivity, sewer and road infrastructure, financial sustainability, primary health, housing, community planning, and communication;” said Logins.
She said that she also feels strongly about the need for town centre improvements, the environment, dog parks, community events and services, and beautification.
“My biggest strength is integrity. I am a big picture thinker and understanding how the smaller decisions we make today will affect the future of Sooke. I have learned to do my homework, speak when it’s important, understand issues from various perspectives, and request more information and clarity before rushing into decisions,” said Logins.
Island raised, Peter Jonassen said that he always expected that he would live in Sooke one day.
Married with two children, Jonassen works for a powerline/communications company and has owned and operated a few different businesses.
He is currently a member of the SPA committee (Special Project of the Arts) and produces the Sooke music and arts festival each summer.
Jonassen sees the priorities for Sooke including the development of a new and current OCP (official community plan).
“Growth is good but it needs to be guided, we need smart growth, we cannot just throw houses on the hill and expect it will all work itself out in the end,” said Jonnasen.
“My biggest fear is that Sooke ends up as a suburb of Langford. I hope to be part of a council that wants to protect and maintain our awesome little town’s identity and grow.”
Jonassen also said that Sooke needs a community health centre and advocates for more opportunities for local businesses to be created and succeed. The latter, he said, can be accomplished by working with developers to create more commercial space.
“I hope to be part of a council that sees, what a great place we live in and wants to maintain our way of life here and expand our potential using smart growth,” said Jonassen.