Jan. 11, 2012
Local man arrested for murder
On Sunday, Jan. 8 at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sooke RCMP attended a residence on Otter Point Road after receiving a call for assistance.
When police arrived they found a deceased 53-year-old woman. Alex Conte, 21 years old, was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder.
The victim and the suspect were known to each other and Alex Conte is known to police. Conte is currently in custody pending a court appearance, the date and time which has not yet been determined. The suspect will appear in West Shore Provincial Court.
Rezoning issues surface at council meeting
Some of the items on the District of Sooke council agenda on January 23 were there to correct some wrongs created years ago.
Council voted to schedule a public hearing to remove a restrictive covenant placed on the Sooke Harbour House back in 2003. The covenant restricted the number of events that could occur at the inn to 15 per year.
The applicants, Sinclair and Frederique Philip, want more flexibility in holding commercial events, weddings, etc. as this is an economic driver for their business and for Sooke in general. The owners of Sooke Harbour House had to build a separate parking lot across from the inn to accommodate guests who might attend larger gatherings.
Planner Gerard LeBlanc said, “staff believe the removal of the covenant is a good thing and it will enable the property to be used as it was intended to be used. It makes good sense to do that.”
Councillor Bev Berger said it was “crazy that this covenant ever existed.”
A public hearing on this matter will be held on February 13, 2012.
Court ruling could impact local fishery
A ruling by the federal Court of Appeal could have mammoth ramifications for the Sooke and the Juan de Fuca says Mike Hicks, regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.
On February 9, a precedent-setting ruling, stipulates that the federal government is legally bound to protect the killer whale habitat in both the southern straits as well as the northern straits.
“The environmental groups have been fighting with DFO (Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans) over protection of Southern Vancouver Island orcas and they won their case,” said a distressed Hicks. With the forced protection of the orcas’ habitat Hicks fears a loss of fishing for chinook salmon. The chinook are part of the orca’s diet.
“DFO might be looking at some scary regulations,” said Hicks. “They could shut down the chinook fishery on the Juan de Fuca Strait or whale watching boats.”
Barn collapses after tremors
A barn on the 4000-block of Otter Point Road collapsed after a series of unexplained tremors rumbled through the region on Thursday, March 15.
Barrie Hanslip, owner of the 35-acre property where the barn was located, said the steepled barn tumbled downward after a large “boom” and rumble at 11:30 a.m. The large tremor was preceded by two smaller shakes around 9:00 a.m.
Hanslip wasn’t home at the time of the collapse, but her niece, Sandra Richardson, said two seconds after the large third rumble, she heard a creak and the barn collapsed.
“I thought my aunt was underneath it and was screaming for her, but I ran up to the barn and saw her car was gone,” Richardson said.
Richardson, whose residence is located adjacent to the dilapidated barn, said the earthquake-like rumbles shook the stove pipe in her home.
Hanslip said although the barn was 50 years old, it would’ve stood erect if left undisturbed.
One fatality and five injuries in West Coast Road
Two different vehicle accidents occurred on April 9 on West Coast Road, one resulting in a fatality.
One teen was killed and another three were injured after the stolen vehicle they were driving crashed near Park Isle Marine on West Coast Trail around 10 a.m.
According to a witness report the westbound mid-sized compact vehicle was speeding down the road, lost control and veered into the other lane.
“This guy was going like a rock out of hell,” he said, adding the vehicle nearly hit his motor home.
“My windshield cracked and I got dirt on my windshield from debris,” he said.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Wright said the vehicle then hit a power pole sideways, and flipped over into a ditch upside down. The pole was snapped in half by impact and one passenger was killed.
When emergency crews arrived the driver and front passenger were on the road way.
One man was confirmed dead, and a woman was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital with serious head injuries around 11 a.m. Wright said she is currently in the Intensive Care Unit.
Two other men were taken to hospital via ambulance. Two of the occupants were 18 and two were 15.
Sooke celebrates 75th anniversary of community hall
Over the past 75 years the Sooke Community Hall has seen a lot of people and events within its walls.
Volunteer organizations use it for their monthly meetings. Kids have gone there for sports, and celebrated their success in annual banquets. Thousands of people have gathered over the years, for dances, festive events, or to mourn a dear departed friend.
“The construction of the hall more than 75 years ago is testament to the volunteer and community spirit that still thrives in the community today,” said Karl Linell, Sooke Community Association president.
It was the need for a community hall that spurred the creation of the Sooke Community Association in 1935. Early members of the association took on the task of organizing All Sooke Day – to bring the community together in celebration every year, and to raise funds to build and operate a community hall.
Volunteers began constructing the hall in 1936, and the completed hall opened its doors in 1937.
Local woman dies in her submerged car
The body of a 65-year-old local woman was recovered from a vehicle submerged in the ocean near the 7700-block of West Coast Road on May 30.
The woman is believed to be Louise Lemire-Elmore, who was a resident on the large, waterfront property.
Police, ambulance, Sooke Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, and search and rescue (SAR) technicians from 442 Squadron responded around 11:30 a.m., after a local resident alerted Lemire-Elmore’s husband that her car was in the water.
SAR divers recovered the remains from the submerged vehicle around 12:50 p.m. after a preliminary search of the area did not locate her.
Tire marks indicated the vehicle was driven off the driveway near her house, over the rocky embankment and beach and into the ocean.
The submerged car, which was facing perpendicular to the driveway, was seen a short distance from the shoreline.
According to Staff Sgt. Steve Wright, it is currently unknown what circumstances preceded the accident, but foul play is not suspected. Wright would not confirm the identity of the body at the time, but said the woman was in good health.
War on drugs is not working says mayor
Sooke joined most of the communities from across Vancouver Island in supporting a motion to decriminalize marijuana.
Decriminalization is not legalization stressed Mayor Wendal Milne.
Milne was an RCMP officer for 26 years and was on the drug squad during that time.
“The supposed war on drugs has been going on for 30 years,” said Milne. “And we’re no further ahead.”
He said that decriminalization of marijuana is not enforced evenly across the boards, there is no consistency and it hasn’t worked. Milne thinks marijuana should be decriminalized and treated the same as liquor. He said many young people are given criminal records because they may have experimented once or been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He also stated that this would be a way to control medical marijuana grow ops, because right now, “it’s not working the way it’s working.”
Zero per cent tax increase anticipated
A zero per cent tax increase is sure to have the residents of Sooke smiling. A one per cent tax decrease should have business owners smiling as well.
The Finance and Administration Committee (FAC) has been working hard since the election to bring costs in line to ensure that residents will not pay more property and business property taxes in 2012.
Councillor Rick Kasper, chair of the FAC, said there are a number of initiatives the district will be carrying out to ensure they continue to have a handle on the budget.
“We will look at other cost saving measures throughout the year,” said Kasper. “And we will be establishing a new reporting process for helping keep track of budgets.”
Kasper said they will start the next budget in October as soon as the third quarter is identified.
Sex abuse case against former priest moved to July
The case against a former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing minors in Saanich will head to a voir dire phase of court proceedings in July.
Philip Jacobs served as a parish priest at St. Joseph the Worker on Burnside Road West from 1998 to 2002.
A pretrial conference this week in Victoria Supreme Court set a date for the voir dire – a hearing to examine evidence or witness competency – for July 23.
In July 2010, Jacobs was charged with sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference of a person under 14 and touching a young person for a sexual purpose.
The charges involve three minors under 14, with alleged incidents spanning September 1996 to June 2001, all within Saanich.
He was arrested Aug. 4, 2010 and released on $25,000 bail.
Jacobs worked part-time from 1996 to 1998 at St. Rose of Lima in Sooke before before taking the position of parish priest at St. Joseph the Worker.
Fine art is married to volunteerism
Never ones to do anything on a small scale, the organizers of the first fine arts show in Sooke, had Lieutenant-Governor Bob Rogers open the show. The show attracted 4,500 people and more than 100 paintings were sold. This solidified the show and made it one of the best juried art shows in British Columbia. That was in 1986. It was called Fine Arts ‘86 and over the next 26 years it would come to represent Sooke as a place where fine art is married to volunteerism.
There have been many changes each meant to strengthen the show and carry it forward to even greater heights. The one constant is that the SEAPARC ice arena is transformed into a unique art gallery.
It is so well done that Sally Manning, show coordinator, said one of the most common questions she is asked is, “What is this building used for when its not an art gallery?”
Sooke CAO resigns
Evan Parliament has resigned from his position as chief administrative officer with the District of Sooke. A move that was made effective on July 31.
“The District of Sooke is announcing that the employment relationship between Chief Administrative Officer Evan Parliament and the District of Sooke has been terminated,” states a district press release dated Aug. 7.
Due to a confidentiality agreement, staff and members of council cannot speak to Parliament’s resignation.
“Terms of any settlement between the District of Sooke and Mr. Parliament are confidential and cannot be released.”
Parliament held his position as chief administrative officer for over five years, after being hired in December 2006.
Prior to his position in Sooke, Parliament worked as a city manager with the District of Summerland from June 2003 to August 2005.
Heroes in our midst save man’s life
When Bobbie-jo Peterson was driving home along Sooke Road last July, she noticed a pair of legs sticking out from behind a suitcase by a bus stop near Drennan Street.
Seeing the man’s feet on the ground, Peterson thought, someone must be in trouble.
“I instinctively pulled over,” she said, adding that there was already a man there on the phone, calling for help.
“I was worried he wasn’t breathing,” Peterson said, adding that the collapsed man’s face was blue.
“I thought he was dead or dying.”
Peterson, who was with her then 14-year-old son, began doing chest compressions on the collapsed man, who was visiting from Calgary and said to be in his 50s.
“At first, I wasn’t really sure what to do but then, I guess, instinct came in,” Peterson said.
Having two sons with epilepsy, Peterson knows CPR, but she hadn’t had to use her skills for about 15 years.
In what seemed like no time at all, Gerry Boivin, a Langford resident with a military background, came to Peterson’s aide.
The two continued to resuscitate the man, using both compression and mouth-to-mouth techniques.
“My focus was on what I was doing,” Peterson said. “I just wanted this guy to live.”
Christina Klein, a newly trained officer with the Sooke RCMP, soon joined them. For the next 10 minutes, the three continued giving the man CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
“I’m so glad that we could keep this man alive with CPR while the ambulance was on its way,” Klein said in a statement.
Car wash location draws opposition
The proposed Murray Road car wash is not meeting with approval by many of the residents who live in the area.
At a public hearing on Monday night, council heard mainly from those opposed to the location of the car wash.
Robert Martin, who lives directly behind the proposed location, said he was not against a car wash, he was against the location. He also said a car wash in that area of Sooke was not in the Official Community Plan.
“The plan is more important than any of us here,” he said. “Don’t inflict things on us that are contrary to the OCP.”
The proponent is wanting to build a environmentally-friendly five-bay car wash and laundromat in the area behind Village Food Markets along what is called Logan Lane. A new road would be built at the east edge of the property. The cost of the enterprise would be well in excess of a million dollars. The developers are JCB Holding comprised of Bruce Logan and Jerry Liedtke.
Tour de Rock
Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders arrived in Sooke on Oct. 3 to a barrage of cheers from local students and residents at Ecole Poirier.
Sooke’s rider, Const. Steven Martindale, said the ride, which began on Sept. 23 at Port Alice, has been emotional.
“It’s been pretty awe-inspiring, and words can’t really address everything that’s been going on for two weeks,” he said. “The physical turmoil they kind of prepare us for, but the emotional side of things, you know, they can’t.”
When the ride became physically gruelling, Martindale thought of his junior riders, Daisy Irwin and Joel Dorval.
“I’ve got two pictures of my junior riders on my bike and anytime during the bike hills, I looked down at them and it felt like they were pushing my bike for me.”
Hope for Sooke homeless
The Hope Centre, an affordable housing project, geared towards aboriginal and non-aborignal youth in Sooke and the Greater Victoria area has been given a federal funding jump start.
The Capital Regional District board approved a recommendation to distribute $1.8 million from the Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy to the centre on Oct.10.
The project’s total cost is $5.9 million.
The Hope Centre, which is a partnership between the M’akola Housing Society and Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, will be located on 6750 West Coast Rd.
According to Angela Hudson, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul executive director, the four-storey building will be developed on the site currently occupied by the society’s thrift store.
It will have 25 units for youth under the age of 19 and young adults over the age of 19.
Sewer system unaffordable without tax increase
“The chickens have come home to roost,” and increases for sewer parcel taxes will be hitting Sooke property owners’ pocketbooks in 2013.
The increase would see the sewer parcel tax rise to $552 from the current $515.
Originally when the sewer system was first planned and went to referendum, the parcel tax was set at $495. It was intended to be self sufficient but that has not proven to be the case. The cash shortfall has been coming out of the General Fund. The amount which was borrowed from the General Fund is $588,459.65 at the end of 2011. Repayment to the General Fund has to be repaid at $118,000 per year for five years, resulting in a 7.1 per cent increase to the sewer parcel tax.
Acting CAO David Gawley, said at council on Oct. 22, that he could not explain the rising costs. He said the increase was suggested for a five-year term, and after five years the parcel tax would be closer to $515. He also stated that the original bylaw was approved for the Sewer Specified Area, not the entire population of Sooke.
He said for the balance of 2012 money will come from the DCC fund.
“We need to look at a new financial structure,” said Gawley.
Road closure issues cancel triathlon
The Subaru Sooke Triathlon scheduled for 2013 has been cancelled due to a loss of support for a closure of West Coast Road/Highway 14.
Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area regional director, chose not to support the road closure due to complaints from tourists and local businesses, and concerns from the Shirley fire department regarding safety and access.
Increased vehicle traffic due to the opening of the Pacific Marine Circle Route was also a factor.
“I, more than anyone, worked to make this work, and I’m hugely disappointed that we’ve lost the triathlon, but I guess we can’t have it both ways,” Hicks said. “There was concerns everywhere. It was just too busy — Highway 14 isn’t some country little road out there.”
Hicks said he sent a letter on Sept. 15 to LifeSport regarding his concerns over closing Highway 14.
“I did that early so people could make a decision,” said Hicks.
He said there were no phonecalls or comments and he said he had to wonder how interested everyone was.
Paul Regensburg, LifeSport coach and partner, said it was a “difficult” and “emotional” decision to cancel the race.
“We are grateful to the community groups and to the support of the events and to the local business community. We know and understand that they were big supporters and this is not a reflection upon them whatsoever,” he said.
Council backs Bylaw 600 and new Prestige agreement
A settlement with Prestige Sooke Holdings was authorized to be signed following a vote at District of Sooke council on Monday night.
The Finance and Administration Committee had been reviewing the agreement over the past 10 months.
The review found a number of administrative issues which had not been dealt with and resulted in some financial relief to the district. In total $491,825 had been negotiated with the hotel and included an additional year’s use of the convention centre for $1.