With 2018 now neatly tucked away to the past, Maja Tait is facing the new year with a characteristic sense of optimism.
“Sooke is a wonderful community that has all the big city issues that you might think about…homelessness, opiate abuse … but also has great food, great schools, and wonderful people,” observed Tait.
“We also have that small community sharing and giving while at the same time we’re growing and changing in other ways. It makes for an interesting and challenging community and I’m looking forward to the coming year. It’s going to be a great year.”
Tait acknowledged that the election period of 2018 held its own challenges and took up a considerable amount of time in the latter part of the year. But Tait is pleased with the outcome of the election and is confident that the new council is an enthusiastic and capable group.
“We spent a full day meeting with everyone who works at the district office and a day with fire and another with the wastewater treatment plant…it’s important that everyone is on the same page and understands who the staff is and what they do.”
It’s no secret that staffing has been an issue in Sooke and Tait is hopeful that the situation will be resolved during the next year.
“The priority is that we land a quality CAO candidate. Part of that will involve laying out our expectations very clearly and in making certain that any candidate understands the position clearly,” she said.
“Beyond the actual job, they have to understand coming in that there is no anonymity in a town the size of Sooke. The new CAO will be recognized wherever they go and people will know everything about them. They will also be subject to comments on social media and in the coffeeshops. It’s all part of the job.”
Tait said that another challenge facing Sooke in the coming year involves the community’s rapid growth.
“We’re a young municipality…20 years old… but we’re growing fast and we have to properly resource ourselves to meet the needs of the community,” said Tait.
“But to do that, we have to recognize the issues that come with the process. For example, we need to hire more people at City Hall, but if we do, where do we put them? The building would need renovations to accommodate all the people we need to deal with things like development permits.”
The same, explained Tait, is true of the fire department and police facilities.
One of the ways of addressing the challenges of the community in the coming year is to ensure that the municipality has a strong committee structure so that the goals outlined in the strategic plan can be achieved.
“We also need to develop a new Official Community Plan with the help of our new CAO, and then we have to find a way to implement the needed changes in a timely manner. It’s a challenging task.”
The coming year will also see some long-awaited, visible changes in Sooke.
Tait pointed to the new library, the possibility of a new medical centre and the further development of Lot A as examples of changes that may be seen in 2019.
“We’re 20 years old now and it’s time to say we’ve arrived. I can’t really say what the community will look like in 10 years, but Council and I will be doing all we can in 2019 to make Sooke an even more wonderful community than it is now.”