Wrap up to successful season
The Sooke Slow Food Cycle was created for a number of reasons, not least because it will hopefully draw a very specific type of tourism to our area. The experts term it “community driven tourism” since it’s the character of the community itself rather than any specific resorts or tourist attractions that make people want to spent time there. The motto for this kind of tourism might be “a great place to live is a great place to visit.” Drawing daytrippers and weekenders here is good for the local economy. They’ll come in ever larger numbers as the community improves its services, infrastructure and overall quality of life. And that, in turn, is great news for those of us who live in town.
A number of other intentions lie behind this first annual event launched by the Juan de Fuca Cycling Coalition and the Sooke Transition Town Society in collaboration with the T’Sou-ke Nation, JDF Community Trails Society and Sooke Food CHI. We wanted to promote cycling as a lifestyle choice while also raising awareness about existing and potential multi-use hiking, biking and dog-walking trails throughout the area. Like Food CHI, we sought to promote local food sources as a healthy alternative to nutritionally dead processed foods. And we wanted to give people some good, fresh and often old-fashioned ideas about how to become more sustainable and resourceful in the face of an uncertain future.
Now that we’ve wrapped up this year’s event, I’d like to report back to our community. About 300 people from ages five upwards took part in the ride, either as paid ticket holders or drop-ins. Less than a third of the participants were from Sooke, and that means we accomplished our mission of showcasing some of Sooke’s gems – Muir Creek, the Sooke Region Museum, Sunriver Allotment Garden, John Phillips Memorial Park and the new Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre included – to a good number of out-of-town visitors. A third of them were from Victoria, 19 percent from the rest of Vancouver Island, 14 percent from the mainland and 7 percent from outside the country.
People told us time and again how much they enjoyed themselves. They snacked on tasty local food, rode their bikes on a gorgeous fall day here by the sea and learned about everything from edible seaweeds to solar power, backyard beekeeping and the fine art of making the perfect kale chip. Some locals were delighted to find sources for food that they could trust, and many were thrilled to ride and walk along trails they never knew existed right in the heart of town. We had requests from visitors to keep them posted about next year’s event. And a bunch of folk tried out electric bikes for the first time and are excited about possibly incorporating them as a alternative mode of transport.
All in all, the day was deemed a great success. To top it off, we made a few real and lasting contributions to the town. One of our sponsors, Urban Racks, donated a bicycle rack to the library. Our team of “masked marauders” erected Sooke’s first-ever bike path signpost on the Gatewood Trail. And we ran a lean enough operation that we are able to make donations to Eat to Defeat Cancer, our charity of choice this year, and to Slow Food Vancouver Island.
We couldn’t have done it without our volunteers, sponsors and supporters, and we look forward to more of your support next year.
Director of the Sooke Slow Food Cycle