To Mayor Tait and Council,
With regard to the roundabout project, there are a few things at play here, although it seems there is only the timing of the project that is ultimately negotiable.
But what will definitely affect our downtown core business is beginning the project in the middle of our busiest season, when in fact it doesn’t really matter to the project itself when it starts.
Two or three years ago there was a highway 14 construction project in front of West Coast Tire, with alternating one-way traffic for quite a few weeks. As an example of how that impacted business, the restaurant I work for had a very strong lunch business virtually every day. Soon after the start of the traffic flow restriction, our lunch and early evening business fell by more than 5o per cent. After a couple of weeks of this I asked a few customers that I recognized as being very regular customers, but not so much any more, what changed; service, food quality or what. Some of these people lived in Victoria, Langford and some were from the Sooke area. The overwhelming reason was the traffic restrictions. It disrupted their routines &/or time scheduling and therefore changed when and why they came to or left Sooke. It took a long time after the project was completed to start to see a reverse in that trend. This effect was felt by many businesses in our core.
My sense is that if we start funneling a significant portion of the traffic up and around the core, as well stopping/restricting traffic through the core, people’s habits and sense of convenience will change and business will suffer dramatically at a time of the year when it is necessary for our businesses to flourish and be very profitable while there is large contingent of visitors here and locals are out and about more as well.
And the Royal Bank construction will be a major project still in play. To have two separate major construction projects going at the same time in such a busy period just doesn’t make any sense.
I have talked to most of the business operators along Sooke/West Coast Roads and while there is a diversity of opinion on the good or bad of the roundabout, all agree the traffic disruption in the middle of summer is a bad idea at best, that Sooke council should stand up for what is the best for Sooke’s business community and re-schedule the project to the end of September and that as much as possible be done at night, again for the benefit of the business community and the convenience of Sooke residents.
This is a short version of the overall discussion of this project and we ask that you schedule this project for the back half of September. I think this is a very important situation concerning our business community specifically and I hope the business community can be involved immediately for what is best for Sooke business, employment, and our future.
The Sooke News Mirror will from time to time print lengthier letters which are on an importfant local issue as a “Feature Letter.” They will, as all letters are, be edited for clarity and length.