It angered me to read about the halting of the construction of our public boat launch. To achieve something truly needed in Sooke, at such a relative low cost to our municipality was a real opportunity which now flounders on the beach.
I find it troubling that some people revel in this failure to achieve a public amenity. To rub the district staff’s collective face in a perceived inability to see all the potential pitfalls in achieving the vision of a boat launch is particularly mean-spirited and petty. When I read in the Sooke News Mirror, the comment, “developers are expected to play by the rules and the district is doing stuff without permission,” my immediate reaction was ‘so what?”
It’s not like there’s some secret deal here to give something away at taxpayers’ expense, in fact this is quite the opposite. Leveraging $1.3 million dollars, with only a $300,000 investment — legally — is an amazing achievement. Particularly because the end result will be another significant public amenity. One which will bring substantial dollars into our community, and will work in harmony with all the other things that are happening or will be happening in Sooke. The district may not have done all their homework when it came to getting all the permissions necessary, (on paper) before commencing construction, but they certainly did more than their fair share of homework when it came to bringing this public amenity forward at the lowest possible price to taxpayers. Not only that, but all stakeholders agreed that this project should move forward, regardless of whether it’s on paper or not.
Developers should be held to strict guidelines because they are in the business of realizing return on investment. The less it costs them to develop, the more money they make. Developers are by definition, profit driven. In some rare cases, profit is made at the expense of a community, which is why guidelines, permits, rules and government exists. Not every developer sees it their duty to give back to the community where they make their money, and those particular developers need to be kept on a tight leash. A very tight leash.
A smart developer sees the opportunities in bringing added value to their development by bolstering and providing amenities for the community. They will not likely complain about things like amenity bonusing or development cost charges and the like, instead they cooperate with the municipality and come up with what is best for the community.
The district is in the business of building a community. The money that comes in, goes back out and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It is good to save money for a rainy day. But if dollars can be leveraged with a relatively small amount of seed money from the district in order to build public facilities worth far more than the seed money invested, then the district is doing its job. This is why I have no problem paying taxes or business license fees. It helps pay for a quality district staff that is able to act on issues dear to the community and get the best deal possible, including grant funding, when it comes to spending money on community infrastructure.
Permission to build this boat launch was sought on every level. T’Sou-ke supports it as does Beecher Bay. The province and the feds support it. It’s all just a matter of paperwork at this point. Fact is, if this thing was built, and no one tried to sabotage the process, then it would be built and no one would object once it was done. The tenure would be granted and everything would be fine. But instead, there are those who seek to throw monkey wrenches wherever they see the potential for jamming the gears in this town, and I’m sick of it. I will certainly not be voting for people who engage in this behaviour come next November, and I don’t see why anyone else would either.