Reflecting on the lands of the T’Sou-ke Nation – what an exciting month!
Over the last 30 days, the Parks and Trails and Transportation Master plans were approved by council; Stickleback Urban Trail opened, the community discovered new ways to celebrate Halloween; the Official Community Plan (OCP) review received a remarkable response; and a public engagement period to inform the development of a tree management bylaw was launched. This highlights just a few of the achievements council and staff have worked towards during the last month.
The Parks and Trails and Transportation Master plans will support our path forward, guiding the district’s planning, design, and development of transportation facilities and infrastructure. Key directions we heard from community conversations included the local economy, growth, connectivity and alternative transportation.
I will continue to update you on the progress we are making in these areas in the months ahead. I also invite you to listen to the conversations at council through the district’s YouTube channel as the work to deliver on these priorities takes shape.
Through the Parks and Trails Master planning, the community expressed key challenges, including connectivity of the trails, lack of information on parks and trails on signs, map kiosks, and print materials. Together, with the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, the district responded with the Stickleback Urban Trail launch – a 6.5-kilometre route that connects the Galloping Goose at Kirby to Clarkson Park on Broomhill. You will now find wayfinding signage on this route, including maps and a kiosk at John Phillips Memorial Park.
At the Oct. 13 council meeting, we received a proposal from Harmony Project Sooke to host a drive-in movie. This provided a safe means for the community to come together. Fifty vehicles were welcomed to the parking lot at SEAPARC by the Sooke Youth Harmony Project Drumline on Oct. 31 – enjoying The Nightmare Before Christmas movie.
As the pandemic continues, and as the province reports new records of daily cases in recent weeks, we must continue to find innovative ways to stay connected while remaining physically distant. Thank you to the volunteers from Sooke Harmony Project, who made this fantastic event possible.
As we continue to collaborate with the community, Picture Sooke is well underway. We have heard from more than 300 residents through online visioning surveys, print surveys and sounding boards displayed throughout the community. This visioning phase of the OCP review concludes Friday (Nov. 6) so, if you have not yet participated – I encourage you to do so at sooke.ca/ocp. Please anticipate a “What we heard” report to be available later this month.
The next Picture Sooke phase will look at growth scenarios and be available for public input early in the new year.
Council has committed to improving communication and engagement with the public and community partners. We are following through on that commitment with the launch of sooke.ca/engage – an online portal where you will find numerous engagement opportunities, like the community survey, to inform a tree management bylaw. This round of public input will help develop the preliminary tree management bylaw for council on Dec. 14.
Lastly, but certainly not least, as we approach Nov. 11 – a time to honour and show our respect for those to sacrificed so much for our freedom – I would like to acknowledge with utmost gratitude our veterans. To the families in Sooke who have served, who continue to serve – thank you. Thank you for honouring us every day in the work that you do.
On Nov. 11, while the absence of the traditional ceremonies may be felt, I hope the community will join me in pausing for a moment of silence. I hope that you feel the presence of this reflection and the respect that I know the entire community shares. Lest we forget.
Maja Tait is the mayor of Sooke. She writes in this space on the first Thursday of each month.