I appreciate Trevor Paul’s passion for park and recreational land, and while you have singled me out personally, I can’t take all the credit for Council decisions.
Just so you know, here are some facts to correct assumptions and misinformation in the letter published July 2.
The District of Sooke has an established fund of $100,000 for park enhancements that is fully funded by casino revenues received annually. Not tax dollars as stated in the letter. It is for capital and structural enhancements to parks, such as putting in benches, drinking fountains, washrooms, or trails. There are a number of ways this could be used and council has asked staff to prepare a report with options.
With respect to the horseshoe pitch, in May 2013 council agreed to dedicate a half acre in John Phillips Memorial Park for use by the Sooke Horseshoe Club and others. In June we heard a staff report, based on information provided by the club, with a cost estimate to build the pitch to be approximately $19,000 for materials and fencing. Council’s response was to ask staff to continue working with the club and to schedule a public information meeting. Staff will look at all the costs associated, including overall park improvements such as washrooms or seating that would benefit all park users. This was carried unanimously by council. There has been no decision on any spending.
Your letter provides many ideas for park improvements such as benches, lighting, trails, etc., and I encourage you to attend the public information session with your suggestions. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have additional ideas or questions.
Regarding the bike park, have you noticed there are kids on their bikes already out enjoying the revamped bike park being constructed on SEAPARC land? You are correct that Sooke council did not support the huge proposed development for the John Phillips Memorial Park location. Instead, Mayor Milne suggested locating the bike park on SEAPARC land at the site of the former bike park beside the recreation centre. Council supported this and seeing all the kids out there last week shows this decision was a win-win for taxpayers, youth, bike enthusiasts and John Phillips Memorial Park users.
Lastly, I stand by council’s decision to not put Sooke taxpayers on the hook for taxes owing by the TLC for their privately-run, user-pay campground. Council’s sound financial decisions such as this one since 2011 have put us in a position where we can invest in the kinds of infrastructure and enhancement that Sooke taxpayers have said they want: sidewalks, increased funding for fire and police service, road and trail construction and funding set aside for a seniors/youth/community centre. I am eager as you say to invest some of our well-managed finances in these ways.