Pixabay photo

Pixabay photo

Economic group hopes to increase tourism in Sooke

Economic Development Commission started with lobbying for improvements to Highway 14

Two years ago, the District of Sooke was asked to join a regional economic group that would sell the attributes of Greater Victoria.

Sooke councillors said thanks, but no thanks.

Now a local economic group has taken the torch for Sooke, with a goal of making the community better.

The Sooke Economic Development Commission formed about a year ago, after a few local business owners kept seeing themes in discussion with their customers. One of the main topics of conversation was Highway 14.

The group then decided to launch a digital campaign, called #DividedBy14, to build awareness and lobby for improvements to the notoriously problematic road.

RELATED: Economic plan jumping ahead

“We’re a non-political organization, and all of us work in businesses that are heavily involved with the public,” said David Evans, owner of Stick in the Mud Coffeehouse and member of EDC. “For instance here at the Stick, I’ll see up to 500 people a day, it’s a very social environment and people tell me what’s on their mind.”

Evans said people might be reluctant to speak with a politician or share concerns at a council meeting, so the organization’s goal is to get good ideas from the community and try to implement them.

EDC now has seven members, which include Evans, Jeremy Wilson, Randy Clarkston, Doug Wittich, Megan McMath, and Wolfgang Richter. After a recent Sooke Council meeting they also caught the attention of Coun. Bev Burger, who Evans said will help relay the group’s ideas to council.

Evans says the group was excited to see government funded improvements begin on Sooke Road, and though it will keep the momentum going on the campaign, its now shifted its focus towards a different topic: tourism.

“We think that Sooke is an underutilized resource on the South Island,” said Evans. “We have everything Vancouver Island has to offer when it comes to outdoor recreation, and its only 45 minutes from Victoria.”

Jeremy Wilson, another EDC member and owner of the 17 Mile Pub, agreed: “In my opinion, we have some of the best mountain biking, hiking, fishing, surfing and waterfront access in Canada. We are in the perfect location for adventure tourism.”

Wilson and Evans said the group hopes to hold an outdoor recreation gathering in April and bring in experts from outside the region to discuss how to become a more prominent tourist destination.

Wilson said tourism is what communities like Squamish and Whistler’s economies thrive on, and the EDC wants to make the same thing happen for Sooke.

“Our group wants to help get some momentum going. We hope to work with Sooke council and community organizations try to cultivate more business out here,” Wilson said.

Evans added that it is up to the community to make things happen.

“We as a community have to be the drivers of what we want Sooke to become. If we want to improve, it’s up to us.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A deer pokes through the gardens at Beacon Hill Park. The Royal BC Museum. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Esquimalt mayor repeats call for regional approach to urban deer management

Province waiting on Oak Bay results, Desjardins says cost of duplicating process ‘considerable’

A seabin is able to intercept and collect floating debris in calm bodies of water. This is one of two installed in the North Saanich Marina by a group of local businesses thanks to the proceeds from Blue Friday sales in 2019. (Provided by Maya Bellay)
Blue Friday to support more trash skimmers in Greater Victoria waters

Seabins can collect up to one-and-a-half tons of floating debris per year

Vehicles involved crashes in Oak Bay from 2019. (ICBC Screenshot)
A crash on Foul Bay Road near Carnarvon Street in 2018. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Foul Bay Road a corridor of crashes in 2019

Last year, 63 crashes in Oak Bay involved vehicles

Canadians paid more for various categories of groceries including lettuce and meat in October. (USDA/Submitted)
Canadians paid more for food and housing in October as inflation rose

Lettuce prices rose more than 25 per cent in October thanks to bad weather and disease

An economic recovery plan in progress since April offers various recommendations for the region to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Greater Victoria economic ‘reboot’ plan tackles impacts of COVID-19

Newly-formed task force looks at various sectors, industries

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Andrew Wilkinson addresses a BC Liberal Forestry Rally in Campbell River on Oct. 17, 2020.
Andrew Wilkinson quits as BC Liberal Leader, party to choose interim replacement

Wilkinson had previously said he would stay in his role till a new leader were to be selected

Most Read