GUEST OPINION: Outgoing Sooke municipal counsellor expresses gratitude

GUEST OPINION: Outgoing Sooke municipal counsellor expresses gratitude

Bev Berger leaving politics after 10 years

Bev Berger | Guest Opinion

To the wonderful community of Sooke:

I would like to express my deepest gratitude. I am extremely thankful for your support, trust and faith. I’ve felt honoured to be a part of our community’s municipal council for the past 10 years.

I would like to announce that I will not be seeking re-election for the next term.

The next four years will bring a lot of changes in my personal life. My children are 15, 16 and 18 years old. During this next term my daughters will graduate, one will leave to start her career with the Royal Canadian Navy, the other will start her post-secondary adventures, and my son has aspirations of moving away to finish his degree.

I want to be there for my children every step of the way and do not want to let Sooke down in the process.

This next term will be full of exciting and challenging times. Sooke needs a full-time mayor with a tremendous amount of leadership experience and councillors should be prepared to spend hours revamping old policies, bylaws and planning for our ever growing future.

Throughout my 10 years on council I have scrutinized the budget and have been an advocate for proactive development. What many do not realize is that a municipality’s only way to generate money is through development or raising taxes. In Sooke we are residential dependant – 97 per cent of taxes collected are borne by the residents, and this will not change unless we can attract a larger commercial base.

We need to elect people that share our views, and have the strength to tackle the tough subjects. The term Community lies within its people, not our size. Growth is inevitable, therefore, we need to elect a council that believes in positive, smart planning.

Within the last year I started a land use and development committee, my reason for doing so was to try and bring Sooke up to speed with new provincial regulations.

The province has started a Ministry for Red Tape Reduction, and Sooke needs to follow.

We have just cracked the tip of the iceberg, so my hope is that the land use and development committee will continue to work to help update our current bylaws and policies, as well as work with staff to create more efficiency.

We are in the midst of a housing crisis, which means we need to plan accordingly. My hope for the new council is that they research and implement a variety of housing types: mixed use development consisting of single-family, multi-family and small commercial. This will help create more walkable and diverse neighbourhoods. Appropriate planning will help Sooke become a more cohesive community.

In closing, I would like to reiterate how grateful I am to have been a part of our community. Municipal governance has taught me the true definition of diversity, compromise and strength. I have loved being a part of the community that had helped raised me. If you’ll have me, I may be back in four years

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Bev Berger is a retiring Sooke councillor. She was first elected in 2008.