2014 Council candidates

Each of the 2014 candidates for District of Sooke council were asked to respond to a series of questions posed by the Sooke News Mirror.

  • Nov. 5, 2014 7:00 p.m.
Vote on November 15

Vote on November 15

Jeff Bateman

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

Short-term: Focus on essential needs such as sidewalks, streetlights, parking, road development, business initiatives, and health and emergency services. District campaign to woo targeted builders, businesses and residents.

Mid-term: Steady enactment of fiscally sound aspects of existing community plans, especially those focused on the town centre and community resilience/sustainability.

Long-term: A harbour-facing village known for its postcard beauty, affordability, family appeal, alt.energy initiatives, cultural life, productive farmbelt, home-based businesses, tourism, and diverse hills/harbour recreation.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

Ensure better communications mechanisms linking council to the community at large and vice versa. Councillors must provide detailed reports on liaison responsibilities and their activities at municipal conventions. Empower and respect professional staff by heeding staff reports more fully. Fewer motions on the fly, hence less need to rescind decisions. Respect the OCP more fully and not mess with Town Centre zoning. Encourage a warmer environment in council chambers.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Traffic functionality and pedestrian safety top the list, as per Mayor Milne’s Corporate Strategic Plan priorities. These needs are the starting point for a Smart Growth/Built Green town centre as we reorient towards the harbour. District plans point the way forward. Three-hour parking limits in the core, a solution to the boat/trailer mess, and a contiguous, smooth sidewalk network is essential.

Bev Berger (I)

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

My vision for Sooke is a balanced approach. I would like to see us keep our sense of community by continuing to foster relationships with our local service groups, expand our weekend market as well as the night market.  I would also like to see Sooke develop a Tech park, or facilities for post secondary education through satellite campuses or speciality programs. Both of these would bring a new kind of industry to Sooke, as well as provide employment for our residents.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

I think it is imperative that the next council review our contracted services. The amount of money we pay for the management of our sewer system is enormous. We did not do our due diligence within the last three years to even entertain what a municipally run system would cost. This should be the first order of business.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

I think the biggest issues are; taxes, lack of amenities and services as well as a vibrant pedestrian friendly town center.

Taxes, I believe can be dealt with by keeping up with the rate of inflation so a one time tax hike can be avoided, I also think we currently have room for improvement within our own municipal budget.

Amenities & Services, sports fields and local recreation, can be achieved at a lower cost by developing partnerships with our local groups. For example, the school board, the community association as well as the JDF electoral area.

Sidewalks, we have recently developed a sidewalk installation plan and I would like to see the new council continue to build contiguous sidewalks through the town center. The district just released an RFP to get started.

Justin Hanson

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

I would like to see Sooke develop its town core into a welcoming and walk-able centre with more commercial and retail focused on, and centered around, the harbour.  I would like to see Sooke become a place where people not only live and play, but also work.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

I would focus more heavily on attracting and keeping businesses and people in Sooke. Our success as a community depends on establishing and sustaining a vibrant and successful business and commercial sector. Everything else: jobs, urban renewal, amenities and opportunities for youth, a broader population and larger tax bases flows from this.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Many would point to the commute and the road as one of, if not the biggest issue facing the residents of Sooke, but I believe the need for the commute – that is the biggest issue. There are simply not enough jobs in Sooke.  If Sooke had a larger commercial sector, the need for the commute would diminish.

I would encourage the development of the commercial sector by providing incentives to businesses to set up shop and stay here.

Rick Kasper (I)

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

My vision is for council to work together on a strategic vision or plan with public input. It will need to be both sustainable and affordable. Keeping it simple ensures we can do things and make progress one step at a time without huge tax increases. I would like to see interest groups come together and contribute to the vision in a way that benefits the entire community while meeting their needs.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

I would like to see more public involvement in how tax dollars are collected and spent. We have made huge improvements in the budget process with citizen participation on the Finance Committee and live committee and Council web streaming. Public involvement contributed greatly to getting our fiscal house in order and keeping Council accountable. More public participation will keep Council connected to and engaged with the community so decisions are in line with residents’ priorities.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Residents tell me they don’t want huge tax increases but want more investment in the downtown core, especially sidewalks. There is money in the budget from savings on the Wadams Way connector project so work on more sidewalks could start anytime with no impact on taxpayers. We can get things done by getting the best value out of tax dollars and other revenues and not raising taxes.

Ebony Logins

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

In four years, Sooke will be a vibrant hub and a safe and open place to be. There will be opportunities for youth, families, seniors, artists, business owners to connect. And… that this results from the visions of Sooke residents of all ages, abilities, and income levels.

2.     What would you do differently than the last council?

My goal is to have youth (i.e.: under 30s) become a valued and integral part of community development. We have to help youth overcome intimidation. There are miscommunications between youth and Council, making it hard for youth to engage. They are concerned about Sooke’s future; their voices need to be brought to the table.

3.     What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

As a newly incorporated town, Sooke has growing pains. We will work with the community to determine the priorities and we will act on the work already done by previous Councils. Doing so while being fiscally responsible will be paramount.

Brenda Parkinson

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

A dynamic, vibrant and sustainable local economy and culture.

Downtown beautification would see an attractive town centre, appealing streetscape with views of the basin and a central gathering place.

JPM Park with a plan in place.

Year round market place, community gardens, art festivals and events.

Working together respectfully with the Mayor, Council, Staff and local organizations.

Joining forces with the Juan de Fuca Electoral District and the T’Sou-ke Nation on innovative projects.

All this while maintaining a balanced approach and fiscal responsibility.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

I would ensure that I understood the issues before voting.

If I did not have all the information required to make an informed decision I would table the motion or vote against it.  You can always bring the matter back.

I would make sure that all residents and businesses were treated fairly and equitably.

I would treat the staff and members of the public in a respectful and fair manner.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke?  How would you deal with this?

Traffic and congestion in the town core and travelling in and out of Sooke.  Vehicles travelling to fast, to close together, roads in disrepair, sidewalks and street lights need to be installed.  Need to make the roads and sidewalks safer for the community.

Work with the District of Sooke, Provincial and Federal Governments.

Kevin Pearson (I)

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

My vision for Sooke is to have a vibrant downtown core that over looks the Harbour with a lot of walking friendly businesses. For the taxpayers a fair sense of value for the $ collected in taxes. And opportunities to have new businesses locate here and the ability to always shop local, whether it is food, or goods and services.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

Work on a Vision and strategy early on in the term, focus more on fewer economic developmental issues and really drive one to three big opportunities and do them well. Promote a complete healthy community, where all levels of Health initiatives are available in our Town.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

For me is truly understanding what we are. Largely we have become a commuting community.

Encourage other levels of government to participate in a Regional Strategy and really look at economic opportunities with an open mind, perhaps develop a tax structure that encourages use of locally-produced goods and services.

Make the commute better with a secondary route.

Kel Phair

1.  What’s your vision for Sooke?

We need to search for a positive future, for the good of all concerned. This could bring quality change to our town and betterment for all Sooke residents. Costs also need to be in control. That’s a must. Invitational  ‘Up Sooke’ quality growth will maintain status quo and the needs of everyone.  Youth is our future. Give them something to do (sports, theatre, arts, environment, quality of life) something they like to do, educate them, employ them and give them reason to stay.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

Strive to give all residents peace of mind.  Sooke needs a path to follow. Building that path will be tough, but not impossible. I believe we all (basically) want the same thing, so why not work together for that future?  Good ideas come from good people. Sooke is full of good people, so that might make it easier to reach our common goals.  Let’s do it.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Almost everyone I’ve spoken with wants core beautification and they want it ASAP.  We would require sidewalks, finish up the sewers, extended domestic water lines to existing residents for fire protection and standardized for quality growth, which would gain increased tax revenue through the controlled development and beautification.  With this increased revenue, it will create relief to the existing tight budget concerns. I’ll say it again “mayor and council, let’s work together.

Kerrie Reay (I)

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

My vision of Sooke continues to support the mantra of a place to “live, work and play.” This includes making sure capital priorities reflect road and sidewalk infrastructure for residents; a need to address the road infrastructure between Sooke and Langford with alternate routes in and out of Sooke. This will support economic growth, attract business and provide easier access as a destination for tourism.

Sooke will not only say they are open for business but develop and implement processes that are streamlined and easier for development. Offer more services to youth and seniors, a place for families to live and enjoy the spectacular beauty and outdoors as they raise their children.

And for Sooke to have a reputation for delivering its services within its financial means, to be fiscally responsible.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

Decisions made in a more timely manner, less motions on the fly, advocate for ways of getting better input and consultation with the community on key decisions and most of all, find ways to better communicate with the residents of Sooke.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Moving people in and around Sooke as well as between Sooke and Langford, in a safe and reliable network of roads, sidewalks and trails. Council has responsibility for priorizing its infrastructure projects and I will certainly advocate for more sidewalks and improving our road network. It will require ensuring fiscal responsibility which I am a proponent of, informed decision making to ensure we get what we need for a price that is affordable.  I will also support local business by continuing this current council’s direction and preference for local businesses being used for local jobs.

Mark Whiteson

1. What is your vision for Sooke?

My vision for Sooke, is a community in which the people work together for the greater good of our community. A community in which the elected representatives work for the common good of all citizens and not a select few. A community that does not strive to be something else for other people, but maintain the look and feel that brought people here in the first place. A community that is affordable, enjoyable, and livable for all.

2. What would you do differently than the last council?

I would set out a strategic plan outlining the priorities of council and hold fast to it. I would not bend to every special interest group that made a presentation to council with projects that deviated from the strategic priorities and requested taxpayer funds. I would have a greater emphasis on maintaining and keeping up our existing infrastructure and services, before looking for new feel good projects.

3. What is the biggest issue facing residents of Sooke? How would you deal with this?

Infrastructure deficit and service delivery, while keeping taxation affordable. Sooke has not been investing in its largest assets and without proper maintenance and investment; we are going to be facing huge tax increases in the future. We also have to ensure that we are providing the services that are mandatory for a municipality to provide and doing that in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.