A small section of road has flared into controversy with the B.C. Transportation Ministry and the District of Sooke.
The ministry is refusing to upgrade a 100-metre section of road in front of Sooke Centre Mall because the district is insisting that the two access points onto Sooke Road remain.
The work was earmarked as part of the $9-million roundabout project.
In a letter to Sooke Centre Mall owners Bruce Logan and Jerry Liedtke, Transportation Ministry district manager Janelle Erwin said the ministry is willing to maintain existing accesses, but it will necessitate a change of design to allow access to remain open.
“”The design changes will result in a reduced scope of project work undertaken out front of your property,” wrote Erwin.
Proposed new curb, gutter and sidewalks planned for the road will no longer be constructed by the province.
The decision does not sit well with Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, who said council has not been informed of the decision, calling it “unacceptable.” Tait is seeking a meeting with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone.
“Any changes to the agreement have to be done in writing to us,” she said. “We need to work it out together that’s what a partnership is all about. I can’t understand why they (the ministry) would inform the business owner but not council.”
The District of Sooke is contributing $3.1 million for the roundabout, which fuses Sooke Road, Brownsey Boulevard and the Evergreen Centre entrance into one loop.
The province takes care of the rest with an additional $6.1 million for a complete revamp of Sooke Road between Otter Point and Church roads. That includes new sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting curbs, bike lanes and bus shelters.
The original project design included the permanent closure of the existing right turn out exit access onto Sooke Road, at the northeast corner of the mall’s property. The ministry wanted to expand the current bus bay to allow for two double-decker bus stop.
District council does not support a B.C. Transit rest stop in the centre of town, and says there is still room for development at Sooke Centre Mall which would increase traffic flows.
With the two access roads remaining, the ministry will stop work at the edge of the property, unless the district decides to do the work.
“We’re trying to beautify the centre core,” Tait said.
“It’s really upsetting. We want to finish this plan in its entirety and not have this unfinished tease,” Tait said.
District and ministry officials are expected to meet this week on the project.
In an email to the Sooke News Mirror ministry officials said: “We hope to reach a resolution with the district that will allow the ministry to proceed with improvements to the additional 100 metres of Highway 14 in front of Sooke Centre Mall. We encourage the district to work with the ministry to finalize the details of the project.”
The roundabout project is expected to be completed this fall.