The holidays are a festive time we share with our loved ones and bring our community together. It was a joy to see so many enjoying the Santa Clause Parade and sharing in the spirit of the Santa Run as fire trucks made their way around Sooke. Many thanks to the volunteers who made these festivities possible. Thank you for helping our local holiday spirit shine so brightly.
For more wonderful community events, visit the district’s events calendar at sooke.ca/events. When you’re hosting an event, please know that you can submit events to this calendar to you to help get the word out about local activities.
During the first month of the 2022-2026 council term, council began strategic planning and conducted four public meetings, along with additional committee work with the Capital Regional District and other partners. Highlights from recent council meetings include:
• Approval of development permit with variance for 6645 Sooke Rd. This project will provide 161 rental housing units and much-needed ground-floor commercial space, boosting the vibrancy of our waterfront and providing a critical step forward to enhance the walkability of our town core. The construction will include pre-conduiting for EV chargers and a pedestrian corridor with expanded sidewalks.
• The Sooke Lions Club provided a letter through interim CAO Don Schaffer regarding its proposal for a community facility at John Phillips Memorial Park. Their letter, in part, reads:
“After our Town Hall meeting and the subsequent consultant’s report, we see the community is divided. They desire a new facility to anchor events, but not at the cost of giving up park lands…(we) have decided to pause and reflect on what would best serve our community and our Club.
The ideal solution would have been for the developer to cede the two acres at the south end of the Park. If those negotiations succeeded, it would have been a win-win for all.”
The property the Lions speak of is the northwest corner of the lot, which, although it appears as part of the park, is owned by Aragon Properties.
Aragon is currently building 78 rental townhouses and 54 single-family homes at Church Road and Wadams Way. I understand Aragon will proceed with further site planning for 2100 Otter Point Rd., which includes the northwest corner of the perceived park, once the Church Road/Wadams Way construction is further along.
• Community Service Agreements for the Sooke Food Bank, Sooke Regional Community Health Initiative, Sooke Community Association, Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce, Sooke Regional Tourism Association, Visitor Information Centre and Sooke Lions Club were updated.
Approximately $220,000 will be set aside in the 2023 budget for these organizations that provide valued resources for our community. This discussion is the next step in forming the 2023 budget, which you might recall began with the citizen budget survey in late spring/early summer. To follow the budget conversation, please visit letstalk.sooke.ca/budget.
• To better support businesses and the community as a whole, the district updated the commercial (C3) zone to include retail, office, health and personal services as primary uses. This change in zoning is responsive to our community’s need for increased economic diversity and has the potential to bring more local employment opportunities closer to home.
I’m always keen to remind residents our doors are open for you to attend public meetings. If you cannot make them in person, please remember that council and committee of the whole meetings are live-streamed on our YouTube channel. Recordings are also available for you to view at your convenience.
Speaking of open doors, stay tuned to join me and members of council at upcoming Community Coffee Chats in January. These informal opportunities will enable us to connect, hear your concerns, answer your questions and provide you with updates on what’s happening.
During this season of kindness and good tidings, I offer my appreciation and gratitude to the community for your continued collaboration and support. I am proud to call Sooke home and witness the generosity of your support through initiatives such as the Sooke Christmas Bureau, the Sooke Fire Fighters Charitable Giving Campaign and many, many more.
Be well, Sooke. From my family to yours, best wishes this holiday season.
Maja Tait is the mayor of Sooke. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.