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Sooke Road awareness campaign steps up game

Amidst a major provincial election, #DividedBy14 could be exactly what Sooke needs.
Highway 14 was shut down both ways for the second time due to an accident just an hour apart. In this case, the driver fell asleep at the wheel, crashing into a hydro pole. (Octavian Lacatusu/Sooke News Mirror)

Anything short of stepping out of their cars and yelling at the sky, Sooke residents have tried for years to be heard about a better and safer Sooke Road. Now in the midst of a provincial election, those voices are intensifying.

Some of those voices are the Sooke Juan de Fuca Working group, a tiny band of local business owners who launched their digital campaign (#DividedBy14) early April to bring province-wide awareness to Sooke’s growing pains with Highway 14.

Keeping momentum however, has been tough, said co-member David Evans, owner of Stick in the Mud cafe in Sooke.

”It’s hard to maintain that initial burst of energy. People go, that’s awesome, but then it dwindles into the background because we’re all following the provincial election,” he said.

Thing is, #DividedBy14 did take off better than everyone expected, as word got out as far as YYJ Chat, a local group that follows local Vancouver Island matters via Twitter.

“We’re getting some awareness outside of Sooke, which was really the goal, because Highway 14 divides the rest of the CRD from us and vice-versa,” Evans said, adding that Sooke is just not the tiny place everyone thinks it is, and that it’s time to voice that out to the powers that be.

“We’re a town, we’re not just a series of bedrooms and a bit of retail, we’ve got everything here … we’re a microcosmos of the CRD, yet we really get no respect.”

Maybe it’s time it did, after all, the traffic carnage on Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is self-evident.

On Wednesday afternoon, the road was shut down both ways for nearly two hours following a three-vehicle accident near Parkland Road, when the driver of a van, heading eastbound, fell unconcious at the wheel and crashed at speed into the rear of a sedan, causing a chain reaction and hitting another vehicle in front turning left.

Not even an hour and a half later, a second incident, this time in the 5500 block of Sooke Road, a man was heading home after working long hours and fell asleep at the wheel, causing his vehicle to veer into a hydro pole. Fortunately, he escaped uninjured, but the traffic was crippled even more as far as Colwood.

This, says Evans, is what the hashtag is trying to emphasize and possibly highlight for B.C. election candidates to consider, should they want support from Sooke voters.

“We want safe, hassle-free access … when residents in other CRD municipalities go to work in the morning, their No. 1 concern is, ‘am I going to grab a coffee or find a parking spot,’ rather than, ‘am I going to survive the drive along Highway 14 and will I get to work today because I’ll be stuck behind an accident.’”

Evans said the group is stepping up its game too, trying to get an audience with Otter Point Shirley and Jordan River and Ratepayers Association, and will also present to Sooke council at the April 24 council meeting this Monday.

Check out what other Sookies are saying about #DividedBy14: