Mayor elect Maja Tait and outgoing Mayor Wendal Milne.

Mayor elect Maja Tait and outgoing Mayor Wendal Milne.

Wrapping it up and calling it a day

Former mayor Wendal Milne talks about his last three years

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

The last official function for former mayor Wendal Milne was on December 1 when he placed the chain of office around mayor elect Maja Tait’s neck.

Perhaps there was a sigh of relief but for certain there was a sense of pride in what transpired in the last three years.

No, there wasn’t new community buildings or perfectly placed sidewalks, but there was a sense of completion in nailing down the priorities and making some headway on the district’s connector road.

Milne sat down to chat about his last three years as the mayor for the District of Sooke.

In 2011 he easily trumped his opponent and took on the role without having held a seat on council. Not an easy task by any means, but his business experience and willingness to learn served him well.

“It was a good experience and I’m glad I did it,” said Milne. “If I was younger I would have stayed at it.”

He said the mayor’s role is a challenge and one has to be “on it” all the time. The highlight of his term, he said,  would have to be getting everything in order.

“Our fiscal house is in order and all of council and staff understood where we stand financially. It forms the basis of going forward.”

The connector road known as Wadams Way became a reality just this year and the plans for further expansion are making their way through the channels. He is disappointed the roundabout wasn’t completed in the three years but he said the town is well situated for the next five years or so with rezoning.

He has concerns that new provincial building codes could raise the cost of building by making codes more stringent.

He would like to see the connector road completed from Phillips to Charters Roads and he said the designs are 70 per cent done and infrastructure grants have been applied for from the federal government. He would also like to see back access from Evergreen Centre.

The issue of sidewalks always comes up in any question put to the community and Milne said the stretch between Otter Point Road/Murray Road and the area in front of Village Food Markets is in the plans. Money to be used from that comes from funds leftover from the Wadams Way project. He said Councillor Rick Kasper was involved and helped get infrastructure money from the province for the road.

Milne’s personal campaign and advocacy is the health and well being of the community.  He believes it is a municipal responsibility, and with his influence and involvement doors were opened resulting in more beds at Ayre Manor for hospice and a physicians’ recruitment package.

“We need to continue this process… it’s about time not money… and advocacy. As local government we have the ability to make some changes and that’s really important to the community. I think Sooke is interested in its citizens.”

Advocating for health is his pet project and he hopes to continue being involved on a personal and community service level.

If he could change anything, one of the things would be the mayor’s salary. The mayor receives $20,000/year and he thinks they should be paid a little more, as there are lots of demands on the mayor.

“The biggest job is quarterbacking, moving issues through council in line with what the community wants. They need to seriously think of salary levels.”

As far as being mayor is concerned, Milne said he is disappointed in the way people were treated and that sometimes you just have to say ‘no’ but give them the reasons why and not to make knee jerk promises.

If he has any advice for the new council that would be to be serious about working together.

“It’s okay to have differences but they need to do their homework, get on with it and not be sidetracked by personal agendas.”

So, he’s put away that part of his life, but it doesn’t mean he still won’t be involved and volunteering in the community. After him and Wendy have done some traveling, Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre is on his radar and Wendy will return to her position on the board of the Sooke Region Museum.

“Sooke is a great place to live, we raised our kids here. Being mayor was a good experience and I’m glad I did it.”

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