2014 the year ahead…
This council is heading into the final year of our mandate. We will continue our priority of fiscal responsibility maintaining a property tax increase of 2 per cent or less for 2014, striving towards long term sustainability while still providing infrastructure improvements. Each decision we make will take into consideration the ability of the taxpayers to fund initiatives and the overall benefits that come to the community as a result of the decision.
The Transportation Master Plan identified the lack of east-west connectivity on both the north and south side of Sooke Road and consequently council is proceeding with network improvements that include the creation of a new road (yet to be named) between Church Road and Otter Point Road to be completed by August 2014. The connector road project will ease congestion through the downtown core and include a three-metre paved multi-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists. The multi-use trail on Church Road from the connector road to Throup Road has already been completed and will be paved in early 2014. Tree clearing for the connector road right of way is in progress.
The Transportation Master Plan also proposed intersection improvements for Sooke Road at Evergreen Mall exit to what has been called Waterview (yet to be named) in the form of a roundabout. Properly designed and implemented roundabouts operate safer than conventional intersections (signals, two and four way stops) due to reduced speeds and significantly lower conflict points. We have spent the first part of our term assembling property, focusing on transportation flow and improvements in the core area. This project will include sidewalk enhancements.
Council is working with the community to establish design guidelines for building in the core area. Input is currently being sought from the Arts Advisory Panel and the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce with further public input planned.
This Council is committed to helping seniors and youth. Sooke is currently at the top of the Vancouver Island Regional Library list for a new library. It is anticipated that the library will put out a request for proposals this year. We will be working with the library to look options to include a multi-use (seniors, youth) proponent to this building.
A healthy community is a priority. Aging in the community is important to council. We are currently working with the Sooke Elderly Housing Society (Ayre Manor) and Vancouver Island Health to increase their space. In addition, I will be chairing a committee (Primary Health Care, working group) to look at ways to enhance the provision of medical services in the district.
Council will continue our work with the chamber, the Sooke Region Tourism Association, and the Mayor’s Panel on Economic Development to find ways to stimulate economic activity in the area. We will work in a more proactive way with the Community Health Initiative (CHI) who will replace the Mayor’s Panel on Social Issues. The Mayor’s Panel on Arts and Beautification will play a key role in promoting the arts as well as enhancements to beautification in the community.
We look forward to an exciting 2014.