OPINION SIG

MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Community gratitude as vaccine distribution begins

Mayor grateful for those who stepped up during pandemic

Maja Tait | Contributed

Spring has sprung! With flowers blooming, the sounds of nature surrounding us and the sun beaming overhead, the opportunities to enjoy the plentiful wonders where the rainforest meets the sea offer a particular level of magic and rejuvenation.

This last month marked a significant milestone, one year since a provincial state of emergency was declared and much of what was familiar to us changed. I am grateful to the community – individuals, families, businesses, organizations, staff, and the council, who have truly stepped up and reached out to help one another. You have worked to lift each other up and keep each other safe.

This has been an extraordinary time and while challenging, Sooke has shown its resilience and sense of community. Over the last year, we have adapted to ways of doing business and spent countless hours meeting virtually – repeating “you’re on mute” several times over, yielding laughs and sometimes frustrations, but we persevered and vaccines are being disseminated.

The team at SEAPARC is working with Island Health to facilitate the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to our community and maintain operations with a variety of programs that have been so valuable to the mental and physical well-being of Sooke residents. Of course, this work continues and will for some time. Please find links to related resources from vaccine information to business recovery grant opportunities at sooke.ca/covid19.

RELATED: B.C. plans for COVID-19 ‘mass vaccination’ by March

I am thrilled to share that SEAPARC has both the DeMamiel Creek Golf Course and the Sooke Bike Park in operation – offering fabulous ways for the community to safely enjoy the outdoors.

Over the last year, we found new ways to have community conversations and continue the important work of our official community planning and actioning of our transportation, and parks and trails master plans.

Picture Sooke, the official community plan (OCP) review, phase 2 engagement concludes April 2, so if you have not yet done so – please participate at picturesooke.ca. From your input, an amended OCP will be brought back to the community for feedback. This phase of engagement informs that next pivotal step. Your voice matters and assists with revising this critical document used to guide land use and development in Sooke for the next 10 years.

Finding a balance of the environmental, economic and social determinants as we strive to foster an inclusive, healthy, and self-sufficient community is certainly no easy task. I know some residents desire keen growth and others, none. I hear you. I hear your concerns and I look, with the district council and staff, to seize opportunities to honour our small town with a big heart.

With the implementation of our transportation master plan, we are waiting for replies from several grant applications including the Otter Point Corridor Active Transportation Project. Of course, I am hopeful for a favourable outcome.

Unfortunately, recent grant applications for the Sooke Potholes and Bluffs Staircase projects were not successful. Staff are reviewing alternative options to move these projects forward. We know these are desirable amenities; your continued patience, in particular with the Bluffs Staircase, is appreciated.

Movement is being made on the sports box in Sunriver with the geotechnical study nearing completion. Groundbreaking is set for the summer and phase one completion around year-end. This project is funded through a District of Sooke land contribution, an $892,778 Canada Infrastructure Community, Culture, and Recreation Program Grant and a $405,000 contribution from Sunriver Estates. It will be operated by SEAPARC. To stay informed on the progress of the sports box, please visit sooke.ca/sportsbox.

If you are looking to learn more about local development and zoning permits, the district has a new application to keep you informed. Please visit sooke.ca/landuse to view a development tracker map and access development-related information and resources.

Again, for residents who have limited computer access, please reach out to district staff by phoning 250-642-1634. They are happy to assist you with your queries.

As we head into Easter weekend, for residents celebrating, on behalf of District of Sooke Council, I wish you a joyous holiday. Please continue to keep your families and our community safe. I reflect on how united we are with our loved ones and community by the care we have shown each other over the last year, and I appreciate your commitment. I hope you have the opportunity to walk, hike, bike, stroll or roll on through our parks and trails this weekend and over the months ahead.

Stay well Sooke. Enjoy the sunshine.

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Maja Tait is the mayor of Sooke.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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