The main reason given by council to amend bylaw 500 was allegedly that sufficient notification was not given to Sooke residents regarding this bylaw. Bylaw 600 was sold by Council as “housekeeping” changes to bylaw 500.
In the “Notice of Public Hearing” flyer distributed to Sooke households, there are 28 “notable changes” listed. Most concerning are the proposed changes to the town centre zones. These changes include enhanced zoning to allow gas bars, auto service facilities, car washes, and perhaps most disturbing vehicle sales in the town centre. Is this really just housekeeping?
The 25-year vision proposed in the Official Community Plan (OCP) describes a village with quaint shops, a quiet, uncomplicated lifestyle, and a pedestrian friendly town core. I certainly don’t think car dealerships and car washes in the town core are consistent with this vision.
It seems to me after reviewing the Village Foods car wash decision and the proposed zoning changes that council’s vision for the town centre is a four lane main highway with car dealerships, gas bars, and auto service centers.
Council needs to revisit Bylaw 600 and limit it to housekeeping changes only. Many people worked long and hard on the OCP, and the time, effort, and expertise these people invested needs to be respected. Once the necessary housekeeping changes have been made, council needs to get on with implementing the vision of the OCP by building sidewalks down Church and Townsend Roads, completing the roundabout, and starting on the Throup Road connector. Council has to stop looking backward and start looking forward.