Sooke council urged to ‘pick away’ at projects

As district nears city status, chief administrative officer tells council now's the time to prepare

The secret’s out: Sooke is well on its way to becoming a city, but with it comes a series of challenges – and costs.

In her latest budget report, Teresa Sullivan, the District of Sooke’s chief administrative officer, touched on the white elephant in the room – growth that would force sewers, roads, infrastructure, police and fire services to meet city standards.

Sitting at just over 13,000 residents, the 15,000 mark is not far off.

“If we continue with the growth we’re hitting right now, it’s likely we will hit city status. That will probably cost us over $450,000 in policing,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan told Sooke council that it’s important for the mayor and council to pick away at projects they can finish before the next election.

“I encourage mayor and council to pick off those projects that will have priority for our community, but also be doable in the next two years. The list of strategic priorities right now is quite long,” Sullivan said.

District service levels will also see significant strain, as Sooke’s growth will automatically feed demand and consequent need in the coming years.

“We’re a growing community, we have increased demands, we have a sewer system that’s near capacity and we need to start making decisions now on the expansion, whether you support that and where, because it’s going to take us two years to get there,” Sullivan said.

Pressing repeated issues are roads in dire need of repair or replacement, the dramatic increase in calls for service, as well as safety issues for kids going to school, notably, lack of sidewalks or safe walking paths.

“I don’t want to wait two years for a decision, because then we’ll be hanging out to dry in respect to providing services to our community,” Sullivan said.

The area’s growth rate was above the national growth rate of five per cent, while the population of B.C. increased by 5.6 per cent. The Statistics Canada census indicated Sooke ranked No. 2 in growth among Island municipalities. Langford was No. 1, with growth of 20.9 per cent.

The growth pattern in Sooke and the West Shore communities is a surprise to few.

“There was a sense, we were going to see growth,” Mayor Maja Tait said, adding in the last year there have been records set in building permits, developments and home sales.

“We knew there was going to be higher numbers than the norm.”

With the next census due in 2020 and significant projects and improvements on the list, the road to a bigger, better Sooke is long.

“We need to plan now for four or five years out because we don’t want to hit everybody with a huge tax increase,” Tait said.

– with files from Kevin Laird



Just Posted

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Victoria wins crucial WHL contest over Giants in Langley

Royals take over second in B.C. Division ahead of Vancouver

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

Most Read