Thursday July 14, 2022 | SOOKE, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
[Note: Seacliff presentation at a District of Sooke public hearing could be September 26, 2022, or after the October 15, 2022 municipal election]
An inspiring new commercial and residential mixed-use development in the District of Sooke’s town centre has been announced by Seacliff Properties today.
Calling the new development Harbourview, if approved for development by the District of Sooke will put behind the legacy of Mariner’s Village.
Building at the Mariner’s Village site:
Mariner’s Village was developed starting around 2011 on the Sooke waterfront just east of the main core area at the intersection of Goodmere (extension of Church Road, on the other side of Highway 14) and the main highway (Sooke Road), just as the worst of the Great Recession was easing off. It was built from locally-sourced wood and brought a new fresh look to the town, but met with financial and marketing challenges.
Seacliff Properties will retain ownership of “Harbourview One”, the original purpose-built rental building, continuing their commitment to the community into the future. The 6-storey apartment building is wrapped by townhomes on the lower side creating a vibrant and pedestrian friendly public realm. Along Sooke Road a one-storey commercial building and a three-storey mixed-use building will create “The Shops at Harbourview”, a unique shopping experience.
The location enjoys a wonderful Sooke Harbour locale.
A breath of new life:
The comprehensive Harbourview development will be a “contemporary, stylistic and vibrant development with a timeless appeal and outstanding views”, says the developer.
“Harbourview will breathe new life into Sooke’s town centre and waterfront for residents and visitors alike,” says the Seacliff developer.
Seacliff has applied to the District of Sooke for a Development Permit for 98 residential rental units and over 16,000 sq ft of commercial/retail space.
“Seacliff Properties is excited to invest long-term in Sooke and move this much anticipated project ahead,” said Jeff Luccock, President of Seacliff.
“We’re looking forward to working with the District to bring the high-quality amenities that will significantly enhance the area and be of great benefit to the citizens of Sooke. Our team is also excited to bring a multi-year employment opportunity to Sooke’s local construction industry which will create a ripple effect of jobs and economic benefits to local businesses.”
Previous zoning in 2011:
This site was zoned in 2011 for a comprehensive development that included several community amenities such as a nature trail, pedestrian connection to the waterfront, affordable housing contributions, medical space contribution and more. Previously, only one portion of the plan -– a 52-unit strata residential building at Lincroft Road –- was completed by the former developer, Mike Barrie.
Arguably, the drawbacks of an insufficiently developed municipal footprint was part of the demise of Barrie’s efforts to bring a quality development to the Sooke harbourfront. He heard, at the time, that a local lack of urban-quality medical care was a drawback for people thinking to retire to small-town Sooke from larger urban centres.
Since then, the medical clinic at the Evergreen Shopping Centre (locally owned by Sooke-area doctors) has been expanded, thanks to initiatives by the local MLA (Premier John Horgan) and Health Minister Adrian Dix. In May 2019 two more doctors came on board following West Coast Family Medical Clinic expansion in 2018 after Skyline REIT purchased the mall at 6660 Sooke Road.
Growing population & the push of inflation:
Despite its urban-rural identity and service challenges, Sooke’s population has grown in recent years, with housing development underpinned by cheap interest rates.
Interest rates started climbing earlier this year, and just yesterday the Bank of Canada pumped up their rate by 1%, pushing up the rate to 2.5%. Banks of course charge over an above that.
While real estate market price-points have been dropping in the last few months, as inflation keeps climbing (inflation in Canada hit a 39-year-high of 7.7% in May and 8.1% in BC), it will be interesting to see how market values will be handled by future buyers of condo/townhome properties as well as the future commercial leasing at the new project.
Seacliff Properties‘ deeper pockets will set it farther ahead of other developers now who may pull back on development projects under conditions of more expensive borrowing. The privately-owned BC-based Seacliff is developing the massive Royal Beach project in Colwood, as well as Fairwinds in Nanaimo, The Rise in Vernon, and soon as Westview on the southern slope of Skirt Mountain in Langford.
Seacliff says that it “prioritizes sound planning principles and plans and develops projects where there is potential for long-term community benefit and value”.
Sooke now has 15,086 residents (2021) which is a significant jump from about 13,000 (2016). Back in 2011 the population was under 10,000.
In addition to the expanded medical clinic there is also a new Sooke Library, a residential/commercial development at 2197 Otter Point Road along with amenity development at John Phillips Memorial Park, and the stirrings of more town center development behind Evergreen Mall (including a town square concept and a youth-and-seniors centre).
The town with a ‘forest and sea’ theme to its regional marketing is still somewhat dependent on Highway 14 as the main route in-and-out, although major highway improvements have been underway for the last few years. The Highway 14 Corridor Improvements could see completion this year.
Improvements along Highway 14:
The proposed Harbourview development will bring several improvements to Sooke Road (Highway 14), including a new transit stop along the property’s frontage, an eastbound left-turn lane into Sooke Elementary School, an expanded westbound left turn lane onto Goodmere Road, and intersection improvements for Sooke Road and Goodmere Road.
The project will also include land dedication and full frontage improvements including sidewalks and boulevard landscaping, a new pedestrian connection and view corridor, and bring an extension of Lanark Road through to Goodmere Road, completing a much-needed east-west multi-modal travel alternative to Highway 14.
Mayor’s stamp of approval:
“I am pleased this project will be moving forward, bringing with it long-term investment into our downtown core, along with much needed housing, amenities and important upgrades to Highway 14,” said District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.
“The developer’s community contributions are substantial and will benefit Sooke now and for years to come.”
Tait has been the mayor since 2014, and on Sooke Council since 2008. Her career background is in property management, from which she retired in 2019. The municipal election is coming up October 2022 for another four-year term.
26th annual Langford charity golf tournament tops $175K (June 23, 2022)
Big crowd for long-awaited Sooke Library opening (June 12, 2022)
Reliance & Seacliff partnership boosts Royal Beach in Colwood (January 24, 2022)
Colwood Council hears about Royal Beach development (December 29, 2019)
Skyline Retail REIT buys Evergreen mall | Sooke medical clinic expansion (October 26, 2018)