2014 was a eventful year in Sooke. Some of the issues that came to light in a political sense included:
• At the beginning of the year plans were laid out for the new connector road and lo and behold the road was finished within the year and opened in September and called Wadams Way.
• Marina Miral feels, in some way, that she was born in the wrong century. Miral, 30, had been short listed as one of 1,058 potential astronauts who may eventually land on Mars and live in a permanent human colony — never to return to Earth.
Miral is determined and excited about the possibility of writing about and filming life on Mars.
• Water woes continued to plague residents in the Juan de Fuca electoral area and a resolution was found by completing a bulk water dispensing station in East Sooke.
• Marijuana grow ops were discussed by Sooke council and a zoning bylaw amendment was made to allow such operations only in agricultural/industrial certain zones. In April council backed away from the issue.
• The Juan de Fuca Community Land Trust Society strived to purchase land in the Admiral’s forest but failed to raise the necessary funds.
• Council voted to give Sooke firefighters a small stipend in recognition of the work they do.
• The operation of the Sooke boat launch was given over to a private enterprise for a one year term.
• East Sooke got the go-ahead for a new fire hall. and it is expected to be operational in 2015.
• The new Juan de Fuca service building opened on March 1. The building came in on time and on budget.
• Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan was successful in his run for the leadership of the NDP party and has been declared the Leader of the Official Opposition.
• A billing error saw Sooke residents paying twice for storm water testing and animal control. The money, amounting to $311,000 was to be repaid to taxpayers over the next three years through property tax reductions.
• Council defeated then approved the five-year financial plan because of the way development cost charges were being used.
• Students got an extra long summer vacation when teachers across the province went on strike in May without any resolution coming until just after the start of the new school year in September.
• The Sooke Bike Park was not approved for John Phillips Memorial Park but was instead planned for the area behind SEAPARC. The bike park and trails will be upgraded.
• Residents in Sooke and Shirley are waking up tired and angry because of loaded logging trucks beginning their runs along West Coast Road early in the morning. Changes were made to the time they begin their first runs.
• Council made changes to bylaws which would allow waste transfer stations in all M2 zones. This did not meet with the approval of Mayor Wendal Milne when it was discovered the move was made when he was away. In the end the waste transfer station on Idlemore Road was shut down because the operator was operating illegally.
• Police investigated the death of Pamella Dyer. Her son, Michael James McCormick was arrested on another charge but he was considered a suspect in his mother’s death. He was charged with Dyer’s murder in September.
With the changes to provincial liquor laws, children are now allowed in pubs until 8 p.m.
• Councillor Kevin Pearson announced then changes his mind about running for mayor of Sooke int he November election.
• Former RCMP Staff Sergeant Steve Wright rode with the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock until he crashed on the ride between Ucluelet and Tofino. Wright raised over $30,000.
• The run for council began in October with announcements from David Shebib, Herb Haldane and Maja Tait for mayor and Kerrie Reay, Ebony Logins, Brenda Parkinson, Kevin Pearson, Rick Kasper, Bev Berger, Jeff Bateman, Kel Phair, Mark Whiteson and Justin Hanson for District of Sooke council. Maja Tait won the seat for mayor and the new council consists of Reay, Logins, Parkinson, Pearson, Kasper, and Berger.
• Shovels were in the ground and plans approved for a new Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Training Centre in East Sooke.
• An elderly couple perished in a house fire in East Sooke in early November and Sooke elementary school had a lot of smoke but no fire.
• Jordan River residents are being asked to sell their homes to BC Hydro because of the threat of failure of the Jordan River dam in case of a large earthquake. Campers at the Jordan River Campground will no longer be able to camp overnight because of the same threat.
It wasn’t all just about politics and the working of local government. Community news was what people were after.
• The library got accessible. Since the end of 2013, the library in Sooke now welcomes persons with disability, utilizing a mechanical device to get easy access to the library as well as for all the users that come to the library. Knowledge is for everyone, just like accessibility.
• The Shirley Women’s Institute, marked its 90th birthday.
The Shirley Women’s Institute is a branch of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (fwic.ca). By 1919, the Institute was established, and within five years, it had travelled west and piqued the interest of the women from Shirley.
• The Sooke Volunteer found a home. Since 2010 a group of dedicated volunteers have been working to develop a volunteer centre for the Sooke Region, and they’ve done it! The Sooke Region Volunteer Centre (SRVC) has opened its doors at the Sooke Child, Youth & Family Centre at 2145 Townsend Road, Sooke.
• Samantha Norrie, a grade 8 French Immersion student at Journey middle school, recently qualified for the upcoming 2014 World Pokémon Championships in Washington D.C. She’s been playing the strategic trading card game for almost two years and has numerous accomplishments, including top finishes in B.C. and Texas as well as a first place finish at the Alberta Provincial Championship a few weeks ago in her respective age division.
• The Sooke Elderly Citizens’ Housing Society (SECHS), owners of the Ayre Manor properties, have now decided to operate Ayre Manor ourselves as has been our intention. We are working with Beckley Farm Lodge Society to ensure a smooth transition.
• A trip to Mongolia last year married Pelle Gustavs’ love for cycling with his passion for film making. Gustavs spent two weeks in the land of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan filming 108 cyclists taking part in the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge(MBC). The riders pedaled over 1,000 kilometres in the race that stretched out across the Mongolian steppes, and Gustavs was there to film it.
• Food CHI launches Value Our Food campaign. Launched by the Sooke Region Food Community Health Initiative (Food CHI) earlier this year, the Value our Food initiative will bring food producers into the spotlight with a series of short video vignettes that tell the story behind the market stalls bursting with fresher-than-fresh greens, root veggies, organic eggs and free-range chickens.
• The much anticipated Water Pipeline Exhibit opened to the public on August 1. Many of the invited guests were unable to attend due to the closure of Sooke Road due to a fire.
• Search is on for a new town crier.
When the Spanish came to the West Coast, they planted a cross in East Sooke and claimed the land for Spain. That was in 1790 and 200 years later that event was celebrated in Sooke.
In 1990 Mike Thomas donned his town crier’s outfit and rang the bell in celebration of the historic event. Thomas has been Sooke’s official town crier for 26 years and he is now hanging up his costume and setting the bell down.
• Sooke is one of those places where food and art intertwine pretty easily. With that in mind, the Sooke Region Food CHI Society is holding a Food Art Apple Fest on September 28.
The idea is for artists to create a food-related art piece inspired by something edible from the Sunriver Community Gardens. There is also space for vendors selling locally made products and a pie auction.