There’s no doubt that parks have been a godsend for many of us throughout this pandemic, offering a place to play and stretch the legs when virtually everything else is closed.
So, it’s not surprising that the Sooke Lions Club community centre proposal for John Phillips Memorial Park is met with both disdain and approval by residents.
Urban parks are meant to be enjoyed by everyone - not just the few who want to take a leisurely stroll or be used as a toilet by half a dozen dogs.
We believe Sooke needs the community centre in John Phillips Memorial Park to enjoy this urban parkland by all residents. And the alternative approval process is an appropriate measure to lease the land to the Lions club for the project.
It’s been no secret over the last 16 years, the district has formulated plans for John Phillips Memorial Park. A new library, dog park, horseshoe pitches, community amenity building, bike park and many other amenities were considered. Some of those projects went to other areas of town, while others remain in district plans.
In 2005, after the district acquired the parkland, public comment was sought, and a committee was struck to find out what Sooke residents wanted to do with John Phillips Memorial Park. They produced a visioning document that has been ratified several times over by preceding councils.
The Lions club proposal fits with the vision that has been accepted over the years, and we presume that’s why council is progressing with this plan. Also, the district can’t fund and build everything.
Sooke needs more community facilities. Taxpayers recognized this in 2014 when they overwhelmingly approved a referendum question asking the District of Sooke to build smaller community centres.
“If we used one large building to meet all of our needs, It would be significantly large big and expensive. So, the plan the community put together called for not just one building but several small buildings throughout the community,” Mayor Maja Tait said in an interview last week.
Now, council wants to partner with a well-established service club to build something that’s sorely needed.
The alternative approval process is considered a means of testing the waters on a topic, allowing Council to get a sense of the community’s opinion.
The question now is whether Sooke residents want a passive or active park.
The choice is yours.