OPINION SIG

EDITORIAL: There’s no rush in approving Sooke’s OCP

There’s a feeling shared by some council members that the OCP must be done by this fall’s election

Sooke council is within months, if not weeks, of approving a new community plan.

The official community plan (OCP) is one of the most important tasks overseen by municipal staff and council. The OCP sets the road map and guidelines for the community’s next 10 to 20 years.

With the right approach and support from all stakeholders, the OCP can set inspiring and achievable goals and strategies that will enable the community to thrive.

Done incorrectly, it can lead to increased taxes, unreachable goals, cynicism, politicization, infrastructure problems, safety hazards, and loss of economic development.

ALSO READ: Sooke council reviews draft OCP chapter by chapter

The OCP is not a perfect document, and it never will be. Visions change over time.

Back in 2001, when Sooke was developing an earlier version of the OCP, it’s doubtful that planners could have predicted the changes that growth would bring. Sunriver was nothing more than a location on a map. Today, it is a developed community. The Goodrich Peninsula area was considered an important commercial area in the future. Until the mill closed, that made sense.

Sooke now finds itself at a crossroads.

Some councillors and staff members want the OCP process wrapped up by this October’s municipal election, fearing if not, a new council could rip up the document and start over.

The OCP process has been in the works for 18 months, bringing in more than 2,500 pieces of public input and including two open houses. Still, the pandemic disrupted everything, even having face-to-face meetings disappeared. Many members of our community still have concerns and questions, never mind the questions to come from other government agencies.

Still, there’s this overwhelming feeling shared by some members of council that the OCP must be done by this fall’s election that begs the question why.

Others feel the document will be watered down by pushing this through without adequate debate among council and the public.

“If council needs time to get answers to their questions, we need to be patient,” Mayor Maja Tait said.

In other words, council, what’s the rush besides political expediency?



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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