Premier John Horgan and Mayor Maja Tait

Premier John Horgan and Mayor Maja Tait

Sooke mayor meets with premier to discuss local priorities

Health care, affordable housing, and highway improvements among issues discussed

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait met formally with B.C. Premier John Horgan for the first time since the NDP formed government to tackle issues on health care, affordable housing, and highway improvements.

The one-hour meeting was held at the premier’s constituency office Wednesday in Langford.

The mayor walked away from the meeting with a feeling of optimism.

“I have someone who listens and understands what our community needs and that’s very important,” Tait said after the meeting.

Chief among the concerns for Tait and Horgan is the lack of health-care programs and facilities in the Sooke Region.

Tait, along with the Sooke Primary Health Working Service Group, has worked for years to improve health care locally and have identified a need for either primary or an urgent care facility.

Earlier this month, Horgan said the provincial government was “absolutely committed” to improving access to health care in Sooke and other smaller communities.

“He’s aware of the crisis our residents are facing, so my next step would be to meet with the health minister — to bring him into the framework and progress that’s been made,” Tait said.

The province is currently putting together a request for quote to determine a suitable location for a primary health care facility.

But health care wasn’t the only issue discussed at the meeting.

The two also talked about affordable housing and Highway 14.

The NDP’s election platform included improving access to housing from seniors to families and vulnerable populations. Sooke, too, has been in the midst of improving housing locally be working and offering incentive to developers and working toward non-profit and private-sector partnerships.

Work is also moving along on Highway 14, where Tait has seen her first glance at the draft of the Sooke Road study. The full study will be released this fall.

The study is examining potential upgrades for both the short and long term, and examining ways to promote greater transit use and encourage more cycling along the 26-kilometre route.

Tait is encouraged that several items could be addressed in the next six months.

“Everything is aligning and the right stake holders are meeting and talking. I do feel we will see some realizations actual occur,” Tait said.

“I’m really excited.”

Horgan was unavailable for comment after the meeting.