Well, it’s official. Sooke is getting a car wash in the lane beside Village Foods.
The vote was 5 to 2 in favour of the rezoning change. So much for respecting the original zoning that was passed only 10 months ago.
Rob and I realized we have been fighting an uphill battle ever since the sign went up in May that said “Future Home of Car Wash.” If that isn’t prejudicial language, then I don’t know what is.
Just to be clear, a laundromat was never in dispute. I feel confident to say there was still no site specific reason given for overriding the Official Community Plan (OCP), the Town Centre Plan or the recently passed Zoning Bylaw 500, except that the developer wants to do this and council is eager to have any development in town. In fact that is pretty much it, council just wants to “get something going.”
I knew we were sunk the moment the mayor started off the public hearing with a 3-D fly-through sales pitch from the developer. Apparently this development will only be around 15 years and then it will be torn down and redeveloped to some higher use. Can’t say I believe this and I’m not sure anyone will remember this statement in 15 years time.
It was frustrating not to be able to speak to council’s comments after the close of the Public Hearing as I feel a lot of points didn’t make sense. For example: they said the OCP is ambiguous but in the case of automotive services in this location, the OCP is 100 per cent clear and Bylaw 500 backs it up. In fact, the author and urban designer behind the Town Centre Plan weighed in to say this was the wrong location for a car wash.
Another comment: a couple of councillors said that Murray Road is not really part of the town centre. But I don’t think the councillors have the right to say what is and is not part of the town centre. The town centre is defined by the OCP and the Town Centre Plan. Within moments, another councillor remarked that we are premature in calling the proposed Waterview Street the new focal point of the town centre as much of this road goes through private land and could conceivably never happen. Comments about a shifting town centre made no sense and currently the only reliable guide we have to the town centre is the Town Centre Plan.
Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. Rob and I tried our best and for that I don’t regret. It was an excellent opportunity to meet our neighbours and I feel closer to this community as a result.
It was interesting to get involved with the public process and if the decision was solely based on the numbers of people who wrote letters to council, took the time to speak at the public hearings or simple show up to support us, we would have won by a landslide. The numbers were in our favour. But politics isn’t a rational pursuit.
We used to walk to the grocery store but I guess now we will be driving so we can wash our car on the way!
Helen Ritts and Rob Martin