The Sooke Economic Development Commission had it’s inaugural meeting at council chambers on March 21.
Representatives from different member organizations were present, including: Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce, Sooke Region Tourism Association, Sooke Region Cultural Planning and the Sooke Community Health Initiative.
Community business owners and councillor Maja Tait, who chaired the meeting, were also present.
“Our challenge in Sooke is unique one: we’ve transitioned over time from an industry base of logging and commercial fishing and we’ve moved sort of toward the direction of a bedroom community,” Tait said.
Tait, who quoted the 2006 census, said 52 per cent of residents find work outside of Sooke. There are currently 5,170 people in the work force, meaning only 2,549 work in Sooke.
“How do we change this?” Tait said. “How do we grow our share of the pie, so that we can create meaningful work and create a sustainable future?”
Different items were discussed, including: organization mandates, marketing for the district, impact of tentative recent fishing restrictions, potential for a monthly night market for the summer, and budgets for each group.
Evan Parliament, chief administrative officer, asked the members whether or not they were keen on purchasing advertising that would accompany an article featuring Sooke in BC Magazine. Ad space ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.
There was discussion on the scope of the magazine, along with other possible publications and alternatives like digital phone applications to build awareness.
Members also discussed at length the upcoming fishing restrictions that were recently announced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
John Brohman, local business owner, brought to the attention of the EDC that fishing was a primary aspect of Sooke tourism.
“We should be proactive and try to attack the fisheries to find out what they’re going to be doing, what restrictions, and what are they going to put in to help offset the loss for businesses,” Brohmen said.
The EDC elected to have Brohmen further investigate the issue.
Kari Osselton, manager of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce, invited different members to support a summer night market, with a “make it, bake it, create it” theme. Osselton said the event would be open to local and vendors from other municipalities. The proposed market will happen once a month through May-September.
According to Osselton, the idea for a night market burgeoned after she received calls from outside vendors who wanted to sell in Sooke.
The next meeting will be on April 18.