Every town, big or small wants more business. Small towns, like Sooke, strive to bring in sustainable business to boost their commercial tax base as well as to provide jobs for local people. But, the cost of doing business in Sooke is high. First, there are few places to rent or lease and those that are available are costly. Rent, per square foot, is about the same as it is in Victoria in many cases.
So how does one manage to stay afloat? Sadly many don’t. We have seen the demise of a number of businesses in the last year and, thankfully, the rise of new ones. Rent and wages account for the biggest cost for any business and when you factor in the competition from places like Langford, it’s hard to make a living. The one factor which will set a business apart from its big box competition is uniqueness.
What do you have, make or produce that sets you apart? Sooke is unique and if you go scouting about you can find all manner of businesses that offer something different. But it takes time and effort. With the recent fire, there is the opportunity for the owners to rebuild. Wouldn’t it be nice if they built a real ‘West Coast” style building? Wouldn’t it be nice if the District of Sooke had some building design guidelines so that any new structure would encompass a seaside flavour? This is a big task, but an important one. The flavour of a community is many things and the visual is a large part of the attraction. If we had design guidelines, then we would not have a helter skelter of buildings all looking different. If we want a seaside community which is attractive and a go-to-place, then we need to lead the way. We need to be strict and adhere to our guidelines when it comes to developers. Other communities have done this and it works well. Let’s see if we can manage to get this started for Sooke because with the building boom that is headed our way, we can dictate our own vision.