Mayoral candidates respond to questions

The Sooke News Mirror posed a number of questions to the candidates


Mayoral candidates Herb Haldane, David Shebib and Maja Tait were asked to respond to six questions posed by the Sooke News Mirror. The questions and the answers are as follows:


Herb Haldane, born in Sooke, was elected to the District of Sooke Council in 2008.Herb has a daughter and grand daughter and he is a self employed carpenter and small business owner in the community. His passions are sports and politics. Herb has always served his community – he was Edward Milne Community School class president in 1982 — and he wishes to continue to serve for a long time. His goal while on District of Sooke Council is to learn to speak out and become more passionate about local issues. Herb Haldane was elected to council in 2008 and re-elected in 2011.

Haldane was appointed by council to serve on the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission and is the alternate for the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board.

He is council liaison for the College Action Committee (Westshore/Sooke post-secondary  campus) and Pacific Marine Circle Route – Consortium of Communities.

Haldane sits on the Land Use and Environment Committee and the Mayor’s “Promote Sooke” Task Force.


SNM: What do you think is the one single most important issue facing Sooke?


HH: The most important issue in Sooke is the poor levels of service and amenities for the tax dollars paid. We have the third highest taxe levels in the Capital Regional District yet we have very little to brag about. Roads are in disrepair, sidewalks are not built, potable water does not service our entire community and our property values have dropped substantially to the point many people have little or no equity left. Government needs to be more efficient and address these inadequacies.


SNM: Downtown Revitalization: Is it urgent or as we can afford it? What needs to be done first?


HH: Downtown revitalization is urgent and long overdo. If we build the sidewalks with local labour and machines we could do it for less than half the going contract rate. We have our own engineering department  that could facilitate this process. Downtown to the boat launch would be the priority and then Grant Road..etc.


SNM: What will you do to attract new business opportunities to Sooke?


HH: We need to pre- zone the downtown and Development Cost Charges need to be paid at the end of a project not at the start therefore freeing up money the developer could use to complete sidewalks and streetlights desperately missing in the town core. I would also build some parking lots on surplus land to allow for parking thus making the downtown more walkable.


SNM: What is your vision for Sooke in 10 years?


HH: In 10 years Sooke will have a fully operational road on the waterfront as well as a complete connecter road from Phillips to Grant. Sidewalks will connect the downtown and bike lanes will exist to the high school. All Sooke day will be re -opened and celebrated by the Chamber of Commerce.


SNM: How would you propose to alleviate the parking issue on West Coast Road at the Prestige Hotel?


HH: The parking issue would be fixed by valet for fee parking offered by a local sevice group or the Best Western on a private property not paid for by taxpayers.


SNM:  How will you unify District of Sooke council?


HH: Council this term has voted over 90 per cent unanimously on all issues. I would continue the respect and courtesy shown by this very successful group.


Maja Tait was born in Calgary, Alberta and raised in the hamlet of Bragg Creek. Her formative early years in Bragg Creek instilled both an appreciation for small town values as well as an insatiable curiosity to see the world beyond immediate borders. Maja lived in Japan and Calgary before moving to Vancouver Island in 1997. Maja’s traveling spirit has also taken her to such places as India, Singapore, Mexico and Europe to name a few.

After exploring various options in the Greater Victoria area, Maja and her husband permanently relocated from Victoria to Sooke in 2006 having recognized the District’s simple abundances of community, natural setting and charm.

In addition to her ongoing career in property management, Maja has also been a dedicated volunteer having worked with Girl Guides of Canada, the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre and the Craigdarroch Castle Museum Society. Maja, a former Toastmaster, graduated from the Leadership Victoria program in 2006 and is presently an executive member of the Sooke Lioness Lions.

Maja was elected to the District of Sooke Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2011.

Maja Tait was appointed to the Regional Housing Trust Fund Committee and is council liaison to: Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Economic Development, Sooke Region Historical Society, Sooke Literacy Now, Sooke Region Tourism Foundation, EMCS Society Board.

Tait sits on the Sooke Economic Development Commission (CHAIR) (Commission dissolved October 2012), Community Grant Review Committee,  Land Use and Environment Committee, Mayor’s “Promote Sooke” Task Force (CHAIR).


SNM: What do you think is the one single most important issue facing Sooke?


MT: A strong council that: 1) honours taxpayer contributions; 2) follows due process; 3) creates fiscally sound, realistic and achievable goals; 4) builds on the work of previous councils; 5) is guided by community plans; 6) listens to professional staff; and 7) strives for excellence in a respectful, collaborative team environment.


SNM:  Downtown Revitalization: Is it urgent or as we can afford it? What needs to be done first?


MT: Yes, by building on the work of previous councils with a library of community plans to guide us. Each project needs a responsible budget and timeline. Establishing a “demonstration area” featuring mixed-used development, green space and harbour views is essential. Town centre property owners and residents must be fully consulted.


SNM: What will you do to attract new business opportunities to Sooke?


MT: Continue to build infrastructure, expand fibre-optic capability, encourage mixed-use commercial development and promote Sooke’s best natural assets. Existing retail and home-based businesses must be supported, and Council will continue to listen closely to initiatives from the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Economic Development, the Chamber and business community.


SNM: What is your vision for Sooke in 10 years?


MT: Sooke is an increasingly popular Circle Route stop for recreation, weekend getaways and sports and cultural events. Small businesses are thriving. We’re widely known for initiatives in green industry, alternative energy and telecommuting. Expanded sewers support a clean marine habitat. Sooke’s West Coast character is visible in a growing, harbour-oriented town centre.

SNM: How would you propose to alleviate the parking issue on West Coast Road at the Prestige Hotel?


MT: Start with involving all stakeholders – residents who rightly demand a clear right-of-way, area landowners, the boat launch operator, the hotel, and of course, emergency services. Openly discuss alternatives and pedestrian safety (multi-use trail), develop a working plan, budget and timeline to enact it.


SNM: How will you unify council?


MT: Given the new four-year term, it’s essential we begin with facilitated team building for our elected councillors and for a motivated staff. With the common good and a culture of mutual respect, council can provide good fiscal management with greater leadership in doing the work of building our community.


David Shebib

Candidate David Shebib declined to answer any of the questions.

From the Victoria News:

David Shebib wants to be mayor in all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities.

Shebib is approaching the campaign from well outside of the mainstream and he knows it. He ran a similar campaign in 2011 in Victoria and Saanich and garnered only 161 and 173 votes, respectively. He didn’t get any campaign contributions and he didn’t report any expenses. And like the last time, he says he’s not planning on attending any candidate forums in any jurisdiction.

Shebib, who said he’s a member of the Garden Party, said he would only stay in office for a month-and-a-half. Presumably, that would give him enough time to dismantle local governments and force citizens to live in a state of self-governance.