The longtime president of Sooke Community Association has stepped down.
“I’m 72 years old and I’ve been president for 11 years. It’s was time for one of the younger fellows to take over,” Karl Linell said.
“I actually wanted to step down last year, but they talked me into staying on for one more year.”
Dean Haldane, who served as a director of the association for three years, recently took the reins of the association, and has nothing but praise for his predecessor.
“Karl led this association for 11 years, and I can tell you that he did so much for the association and for Sooke,” Haldane said.
“The guy’s a sweetheart – a no-nonsense sort of guy with a heart of gold.”
That’s an assessment shared by another of the association’s directors, Dave Bertoia.
“We really need to thank Karl for his legacy of work for the community,” Bertoia said.
“People don’t realize that the association is the custodian of all these properties and that people like Karl are responsible for maintaining and in some cases creating the facilities that we now take for granted.”
During Linell’s time as president, for example, the Sooke River campground was developed by the association; a development that subsequently became the main source for revenue for the association.
“We put power and water into the campground and started of with some 15 amp electrical service for campers, but it wasn’t long before we needed to upgrade that to 30 and even 50 amp service as the RVs just kept getting bigger,” Linell recalled.
The association also manages Sooke Community Hall, although that operation is a net money loser for the group.
“The community hall is an important part of the community, but it ends up costing us to operate it. But that’s OK. It’s something we do for the community,” Linell said.
The Sooke Community Association operates with a 12-member board as well as a secretary and a financial officer.
“Of course, we also have a pretty strong group of volunteers from the sports associations that use our fields and others in the community who pitch in when we need some heavy lifting done,” Bertoia said.
“But it’s people like Karl, and now Dean, who provide the leadership that has led to the association’s successes.”
Linell recalled some of the successes of which he is most proud – the development of the Fred Milne Park artificial turf field.
“I was working on that for five years before we ever got a shovel in the ground, but look at it now,” he said.
Haldane hopes to build upon past successes and move forward into a future where the community association tackles new projects with the same enthusiasm that it applied in the past.
“It’s time to move into the 21st century and push to get some new things going, maybe a little faster than we have in the past,” Haldane said.
“One of the things we really have to do is inform people in the community, especially those who are new to Sooke, about the community association and all the things we do. There’s always room for more help and new ideas.”
Linell, though, has not walked away from the association.
“I’ll be staying on as a director,” Linell said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll still have my nose in there.”