Every time I think of the Sooke Community Hall, I picture a single mother working around the clock to take care of her children. She’s there to feed them, she’s there to entertain them, and she’s there to provide a shelter.
For more than a century, she’s managed to care for tens of thousands of children, aka, us, the Sookies.
Some may wonder, why I refer to the community hall as a “single” mom – well, that’s because it is the only building in Sooke that feverishly operates around the clock for an almost ludicrous amount of people: from the Meals on Wheels crew who prep the food for immobilized seniors, to Sooke Food Bank volunteers who organize food items, the Sooke Fall Fair who use it as an event area, as a dojo by the Sooke Martial Arts Association, and as an acoustic concert hall by musical organizations such as Sooke Philharmonic and Sooke Cabaret.
It also serves as the Sooke Seniors Drop In Centre for last two years.
Let’s just face it, the Sooke Community Hall is one of the most intimately-used building on the Island.
At the same time, it doesn’t take a city planner to notice the building is outdated. From its hit or miss interior lighting, its time-capsule exterior, to its just-satisfactory disabled access, to kitchen facilities so limited, it’s a miracle anyone gets anything done in there.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not poking at anyone for the community hall’s state, in fact a hand of applause is needed for the folk at the Sooke Community Association who keep it from falling into ruin. But they can’t do it alone, not anymore.
In a recent letter to Sooke council, the SCA highlights the matter, saying it does not have the know-how or funds to make the necessary improvements to the hall.
So what to do? Well, just ask any Sookie walking down the street about the hall, and you’ll find it is sacred to them. It’s a temple, an office, a place to socialize in. If it falls into decay, there will be nothing left to repair, or to pass on to the next generation.
The answer to making the hall better for Sooke does not lie in external help as some may have pointed out in the past. On the contrary, it lies here, among us, in this giving and nourishing community, because the hall technically belongs to no one and everyone, and deserves the same nourishing heart that “she” has given us.
Octavian Lacatusu is a reporter with the Sooke News Mirror. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-642-5752.