SOOKE STUFF TO NOTE [more events and details on EVENTS page] :
- Meet the Sooke Mayoralty Candidates – Wed Oct 3
- Advance Voting – October 10 & 17
- All Candidates Meeting (for Sooke municipal council candidates only) – October 11
- Municipal Election – October 20
CURRENT HEADLINES: SOOKE REGION
Sunday, September 30 ~ SOOKE.
Election campaign signs are popping up all around town. There’s a mix of both municipal candidate signs (for mayor and council) as well as school trustee candidate signs.
Signage officially starting going up September 22.
Saturday, September 29 ~ SOOKE.
Council and school board election campaign signs started sprouting up around Sooke this past week.
Under election regulations, signs could start going up as of September 22.
Popular locations for signs are along Highway 14 (Sooke Road) on both sides, as well as in town centre.
Friday, September 28 ~ SOOKE. A Sooke Mayoralty Candidates Forum will be held on Wednesday, October 3. The three mayoralty candidates — Maja Tait (incumbent), Kevin Pearson, and Mick Rhodes — will participate, responding to 15 questions provided to them in advance.
The event is likely to fill the EMCS Community Theatre (in the Edward Milne Community School), 6218 Sooke Road, Sooke. Open to the public. 7 to 9 pm.
These sorts of civic events are usually hosted by a town’s chamber of commerce. This election, it seems that Transition Sooke is assuming leadership — they hosted a meet-and-greet for municipal (and school trustee) candidates on September 26, and will also host this mayoralty forum. It is their membership that has determined the format, and also the questions for the mayoralty candidates.
The organizers openly promote that the questions reflect the concerns of Transition Sooke, describing themselves as a volunteer non-profit citizens group launched in 2010 that is open to anyone who wishes to participate. They identify their key concerns as Smart Growth civic planning, the local economy, waste reduction, food security, public transit, compassionate communication and more.
Moderators on October 3 will be Transition Sooke co-chairs Bernie Klassen and Michael Tacon along with former board members Yvonne Court and Mark Ziegler. There will be time at the end of the evening for questions from the audience.
Friday, September 28 ~ BC/National. “Unaffordability is off the charts in Vancouver, Toronto and now Victoria,” says a major bank.
RBC in their September 2018 Economics Research report says the affordability measure hasn’t been this bad since 1990. The ownership costs to carry a home bought in the second quarter of 2018 would have taken up 53.9% of a typical household’s income. This is up sharply from 43.2% three years ago.
The unaffordability crisis requires political will and thoughtful action throughout the economic-impact sectors.
People can only afford so much, and the mortgage ‘stress test’ has in fact contributed to a market chill.
In the west shore, average sale prices in August were somewhat lower than a few months previous (indicating that ‘market cooling’): Langford: $708,970 (had been as high as the $772,000 range earlier this year) | Colwood: $727,447 | Sooke: $446,065 (had been well over half-a-million at points earlier this year).
Full editorial by West Shore Voice News
Sunday, September 23 ~ SOOKE. Long-time Sooke resident Doni Eve is running for District of Sooke council.
She feels that the town is “at a pivotal juncture” and that District actions “should reflect and honour the values that built this community”.
She notes challenges and pressures on services and infrastructure but also the richness of the volunteer organizations that provide recreation, service and culture to enrich the community.
Ms Eve wants to see more affordable, supportive and rental housing seniors and families, and social housing those most vulnerable. Getting back to improvements that “began with the roundabout and Wadams Way” will help create an “attractive, safer and dynamic town centre”. Community gardens are another goal.
Doni has a Journalism degree from Carleton University and was a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. In years past, she edited the Sooke News Mirror and Positively Sooke Magazine. For the past 26 years she has worked in the BC government public service communications.
::: This article was first published on page 3 in the September 21, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
Thursday, September 20 ~ VICTORIA. The 2018 Order of British Columbia investiture ceremony was live online today, for the full community to share in the event.
Among the recipients of awards for 2018 are two west shore leading contributors.
David Anderson of Victoria, a federal and provincial politician who has worked to safeguard coastal waters and wetland areas from environmental pollution in his capacity as an elected official and in many roles on special committees and panels.
Carey Newman of Sooke is an Indigenous artist, master carver, singer, volunteer and well-known speaker about the spirit of reconciliation. He created the Witness Blanket, a powerful monument to the impact of the residential school era and the healing journey of First Nations.
The 13 recipients participating in the event today were a combined group of people who could not attend last year to receive their award, together with those of the 2018 recipients who could attend.
• Biographies of recipients
• Order of British Columbia background
OBC recipients are selected by an independent advisory committee. Members of the 2018 advisory committee:
• Robert J. Bauman (chair), Chief Justice of British Columbia
• Darryl Plecas, speaker of the legislative assembly
• Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
• Okenge Yuma Morisho, deputy minister, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat
• Wendy Booth, president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities
• Rosamund Harrison, Order of British Columbia (OBC)
• Wendy Morton, MSM, OBC
Sunday, September 16 ~ SOOKE. There will be two public forums in Sooke regarding election issues, hosted by Transition Sooke.
A Meet-and-Greet with candidates for Sooke Mayor & Council as well as SD62 Milne’s Landing Zone (Sooke) candidates will be held on Wednesday September 26 at Sooke Community Hall, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
That will be followed by a Mayoralty Candidates Forum on Wednesday, October 3 at EMCS theatre, 7 to 9 pm.
Here is the candidate profile for the District of Sooke and the Sooke School District 62 races. The election is on October 20.
SOOKE: There’s a three-way mayoralty race in Sooke. One-term Mayor Maja Tait is being challenged by two-term councillor Kevin Pearson, and local activist Mick Rhodes. Tait is presently on the executive of the Union of BC Municipalities.
>> For council there are 13 candidates (three are incumbents, and two candidates have served on Sooke Council before the 2014-2018 term) vying for the six seats: Rick Armour (served prior), Jeff Bateman, Al Beddows, Doni Eve, Herb Haldane (served prior, two terms), Peter Jonassen, Rick Kasper (I), Ebony Logins (I), Megan McMath, Brenda Parkinson (I), Phil Rossner, Tony St-Pierre, and Jeff Stewart.
Bateman ran in 2014 and lost by only a few votes; he is active in Transition Sooke initiatives. Beddows has strong connections in the Lions community. Doni Eve (a recently retired government communicator) is married to Rick Kasper. Haldane ran for mayor in 2014 against Tait. Logins has served one term. St-Pierre operates a farm and is strong on sustainability.
>>Issues in Sooke include growth, housing, and a continued need to keep up with infrastructure and services in their semi-rural location. Also, concerns about salmon protection and the need for continued improvements on Highway 14 (both of which are under provincial jurisdiction).
SD62 (Sooke School District 62): The SD62 school district covers a vast geographical area from within View Royal, through Highlands, Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, and Juan de Fuca all the way up to Port Renfrew.
>> Depending on which part of the municipality they live in, some View Royal residents vote in SD62 and others in SD61.
>> Voters in SD62 cast their ballots for a subset of candidates in two zones: the Belmont Zone (four seats) is essentially drawn from all west shore areas except Sooke and Juan de Fuca which are in the Milne’s Landing Zone (3 seats).
>> The Belmont Zone race sees three incumbents and five new candidates, therefore eight candidates vying for four seats: Cendra Beaton, Bob Beckett, Russ Chipps, Wendy Hobbs (I), Ravi Parmar (I), Dianna Seaton (I), Blair Sloane, and Trudy Spiller. Beaton was the parent advocate for French in SD62 schools for several years. Beckett is Langford’s former fire chief. Chipps is the chief of Beecher Bay. Hobbs is also running for Langford council in this election. Parmar has served as Chair for part of the 2014-2018 term. Seaton is a long-time Langford resident and has served as Vice-Chair.
>> In the Milne’s Landing Zone in Sooke there are six candidates vying for three seats (three are long-time incumbents): Bob Phillips (I), Marian Cvitkovic, Neil Poirier (I), Britt Santowski, Margot Swinburnson (I) and Allison Watson. Phillips is currently vice-chair and has been chair of the board; he is retired from a career in social work. Poirier has served two terms. Santowksi is active as online media in Sooke, which could be seen as a conflict of interest. Swinburnson is recently retired from her health care career. Watson ran in a previous school trustee election.
::: For the full list of West Shore Region candidates (Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin, View Royal, and Juan de Fuca), visit LIST OF MUNICIPAL & TRUSTEE CANDIDATES 2018
Friday, September 14 ~ SOOKE. Vehicle incident mid-day on Highway 14 (Sooke Road), 4 km west of Gillespie Rd, east of Sooke. The road was closed for a time, but as of 5 pm is open to single-lane alternating traffic (with overhead limit of 14 ft), expect major delays. Hydro work being done. Next update at www.drivebc.ca at 6pm.
Friday, September 14 ~ SOOKE. As of 10:30 am this morning, it looks like there are three candidates running to be the next mayor of Sooke, with a hefty roster of 11 candidates running for council in the October 20 municipal election.
The mayor’s seat presently held by Maja Tait is being contested. Current 2-term councillor Kevin Pearson is in the running, and also Mick Rhodes.
For council there are 11 candidates (three are incumbents) vying for the six seats: Rick Armour, Jeff Bateman, Al Beddows, Doni Eve, Herb Haldane, Rick Kasper (I), Ebony Logins (I), Brenda Parkinson (I), Phil Rossner, Tony St-Pierre, and Jeff Stewart.
More to come after nominations officially close at 4pm today.
Friday, September 14 ~ SOOKE. The first Pro-Day of this school year is coming up in SD62 on Monday, September 17. SEAPARC Leisure Complex offers skating and swimming, $2 admission. www.seaparc.ca
Tuesday, September 11 ~ SOOKE. Tomorrow night, Wednesday September 12, the Sooke Toastmasters Club will hold an Open House and BBQ at 6669 Goodmere Road (off Murray Road). Everyone welcome. Inquiries: Marlene Barry, VP of Membership, 250-884-9955 or check them out on Facebook.
Tuesday, September 11 ~ Tonight is the Sooke Community Arts Council AGM and Potluck Reunion at 7 pm, at 1911 Murray Road. Meet longtime past Members and new Members. Info 250-642-2236 or just drop in. www.sookecommunityarts.com
Monday, September 10 ~ SOOKE. District of Sooke Councillor Kevin Pearson is running in the October 20 election to be the next mayor of Sooke. He says he will get more done.
“Leadership is the key issue,” he says. “Since 2014, Sooke council has made plans and approved funding but we’ve lacked leadership in delivering results,” Pearson said.
“The current leadership hasn’t been minding the store. Under focused leadership, we can do better,” he said this week.
He says no committees presently have public appointees and almost everything is delegated to staff. He would create three committees: Finance, Administration and Human Resources; Land Use/OCP; and Arts & Beautification. See Full article here
Friday, September 7 ~ WEST SHORE. The annual Union of BC Municipalities Convention is coming up Sept 10 to 14, this 115th year being held in Whistler, BC. Three municipalities from the Vancouver Island west shore area (Langford, Colwood and Sooke) are sending most of their councils.
Langford Mayor Stew Young will be spearheading his council’s motion to allow municipalities to opt out of the BC Speculation Tax. Attending from Langford will be Councillors Denise Blackwell, Matt Sahlstrom, Lanny Seaton, Lillian Szpak, and Roger Wade. As part of the Langford motion, the City of Langford is suggesting that the BC Government put any funds received from a speculation tax on housing towards an affordable housing fund. On the island, the BC Government has already removed Parksville, the Gulf Islands, and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area from the tax.
Meanwhile, Oak Bay will propose that UBCM urge the Province to modify the approach in the current proposed Speculation
Tax to empower local governments to collect a levy on vacant residential properties and to require local governments that choose to impose such a levy to invest the revenues in non-market housing.
A 3-hour information session on Monday will explore ‘Achieving Affordability: Current Policy & Future Needs’. The session will look at creating the conditions for housing affordability that will require “ongoing, concerted actions to address a crisis that has built up over the past 30 years”…. “what are the implications of current government initiatives for local governments, and what further actions may be required?”
Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton will be attending along with Councillors Rob Martin (who is running for Mayor in the current municipal election), Cynthia Day, Gordie Logan, and Terry Trace. Colwood has not brought forward any motions this year.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait will be attending the UBCM convention along with Councilors Rick Kasper, Ebony Logins, and Kevin Pearson (who is running for Mayor in the current municipal election). Tait is a member of the UBCM executive, and is running again for mayor. Sooke has put forward a motion that would call on the Province to enact legislation that would protect wild salmon stock from the negative impacts of commercial salmon farms.
The District of Metchosin is being represented by Metchosin Mayor John Ranns along with Councillors Bob Graminga and Andy MacKinnon.
Cannabis tax revenue sharing and loss of the Greyhound bus service in western Canada are motions being brought forward by the UBCM executive. The LMLGA executive is bringing forward a motion on Employer Health Tax Impact on Local Governments.
The ‘Underfunding of Public Libraries’ motion being brought forward by Burns Lake looks at rural vs urban library systems and calls for the BC Government to ensure that funding formulas do not allow urbanization to threaten Public Library Association sustainability. Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) board chair Rob Martin says GVPL is not in favour of that motion.
The City of Victoria is bringing forward a motion about protecting coastal communities and waterways from oil spills. As well, Victoria — which now restricts the use of plastic bags by retailers — will be calling for the provincial government to work with local governments and retailers to introduce uniform, province-wide business regulations in relation to disposable plastic packaging, to substantially reduce the volume of disposable plastic packaging in local solid waste streams.
Travel costs for these trips to UBCM conventions are approved in municipal budgets. In 2019 the convention will be back in Vancouver (where it was in 2017) and in 2020 will be held in Victoria (where it was last held in 2016).
On Wednesday the convention will hear a speech by BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver, from BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson on Thursday, and from BC Premier John Horgan on Friday.
Tuesday August 28 ~ WEST SHORE. The first Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Board meeting of 2018-2019 and the first under new SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson was held Tuesday evening, August 28.
Student enrollment is projected as 10,209 FTE’s (10,806 head count) for the start of the 2018-2019 academic year (up from 9,853 FTE’s at the start of 2017-2018).
Most of the student population growth is in Langford (mostly in K to Grade 3), with some modest increase in secondary-school level registrations at EMCS in Sooke. Some of the tightest fit for students is at Spencer Middle School in Grade 7 and about 25-30 more students have registered at Dunsmuir Middle School over the summer.
Most teacher hiring is now done with a total of 149 new teachers (95 full time, 56 part time); about 40 to 50 smaller pieces of work are still open.
About 3,600 riders have registered for school bus routes in SD62; about 400 to 600 more riders are expected to register as the school year unfolds. There are 32 bus routes (28 standard buses and 4 accessible); nine routes are in the Milne’s Landing Zone (Sooke area) and 23 are in the Belmont Zone (Langford/Colwood/Highland/Metchosin/East Sooke).
The top set of priorities for facilities expansion is still to build a middle school and elementary school on the land that SD62 acquired in the Westhills area in December 2017.
Wednesday, August 22 ~ VICTORIA. The BC Green Caucus is hosting a public event this evening, Wednesday August 22, to discuss their first year of working collaboratively within the BC NDP minority government.
Andrew Weaver, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen will host the community forum tonight at Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora Avenue, in downtown Victoria, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm.
“The MLAs will hear concerns and questions from residents regarding the key issues in their communities, which will inform the BC Greens as they enter the Fall legislative session,” it was stated in a BC Greens release this morning.
Premier John Horgan last weekend at his annual local barbecue with his constituency tossed out the remark that he’s looking to a 12-year or 16-year run for an NDP government in British Columbia in order to continuing “making life better for people in Sooke, Juan de Fuca, and across British Columbia”.
Horgan told the crowd that he’s pleased with the progress made by his government in the last 13 months. “I reached out to the Green Party and to the BC Liberals,” he said, noting that the current Speaker of the House is a BC Liberal MLA.
The BC NDP approach is about “working with their neighbours to get a better outcome for everybody”, Horgan told the crowd outdoors.
Horgan touched briefly on the upcoming referendum on proportional representation, saying that all governments but one in the last 40 years in BC have been given 100% of the power by a minority of the voter count. He suggested that the mail-in ballot process will be easy for everyone.
Wednesday, August 22 ~ WEST SHORE/MALAHAT. UPDATE 3:45 pm – Northbound traffic was opened at 3:30 pm and southbound at 4 pm. Expect congestion as backlog of traffic clears.
9:50 am. A two-vehicle collision on the #Malahat at 8:10 am this morning August 22 involved a fatality. #Hwy1 is closed while Westshore RCMP crash analysts investigate the cause of the collision and #HAZMAT crews clean up a sewage spill. [Check TRAFFIC PAGE for updates]
The RCMP Traffic Unit, BC Ambulance and #Langford Fire Rescue responded. The collision occurred on Highway 1 in the southbound lane near the Goldstream Boat House.
The BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure and the BC Ministry of Environment have personnel on site to assess hazards from the sewage that spilled from the overturned sewage truck involved in the incident. The driver of that vehicle was found deceased and the Coroner has been called to the scene.
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash — a blue SUV — was assessed for injuries by paramedics.
Highway 1 will remain closed at Goldstream Park in both directions while the investigation is completed. Reopening of Highway 1 will be significantly delayed. No detours so far.
As of 9:45 am, the City of Langford Engineering says the Malahat TransCanada Highway is closed both northbound and southbound, south of Shawnigan Lake Road and north of the West Shore Parkway. Finlayson Arm Road is not an available detour. Vehicles trying to use Finlayson Arm Road will be turned around. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.
Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Environment are assessing the hazards from the sewage spill. HAZMAT crews are expected complete the cleanup of the sewage prior to Highway 1 reopening, which will cause significant delays.
“The cause of the fatal collision is under investigation. The sewage spill prevents travel on the highway. We ask for patience from drivers who are affected by any delays as emergency crews deal with the closure of Highway 1,” says Cpl. Chris Dovell of the West Shore RCMP.
Wednesday, August 22 ~ WEST SHORE. We’re in for another day of extreme air quality risk today, Wednesday August 22. This means staying indoors when possible (with windows shut to keep out the polluted air) or heading to a community facility or shopping mall that is air conditioned.
Everyone is affected by these high levels of air contaminants, in particular seniors, very young children and those with heart and lung conditions or anyone with a chronic illness that challenges overall body function.
The current Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for the west shore as of 7 am this morning August 23 is High at 9 (10+ in Victoria/Saanich) but reaching the Very High level of 10+ again today (after a full day of 10+ yesterday) and through evening.
By tomorrow, the level is expected to drop to 5 which is Moderate, in both the West Shore and Victoria/Saanich.
The 10+ levels have resumed in the BC mainland interior area today. Details posted at www.bcairquality.ca
How to read the chart (from left): Current | Today | Tonight | Tomorrow
Sunday, August 19 ~ SOOKE. Today in Sooke, Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) held his annual ‘Hot Dogs, Hamburgers & Horgan’ summer barbecue at the Sooke River campground. [View this article on its own page]
About 250 people attended the event that was hosted by the Langford-Juan de Fuca Constituency Association. There was a buffet lunch, speeches and cake. The weather was comfortably warm under slightly hazy ‘smoky-air’ skies.
Among the crowd were many long-time NDP-ers who did some considerable groundwork to build the NDP force in the riding over the years. Also some new-to-Sooke folks. And of course many local and regional political VIPs including MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin); Sooke Mayor Maja Tait; Juan de Fuca Director Mike Hicks; Sooke Councillors Brenda Parkinson and Rick Kasper; former Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne (now with the BC Transit board); SD62 School Board trustees Ravi Parmar, Bob Phillips, and Neil Poirier; and former MLA Moe Sihota.
Horgan was eager to pose with “the four Newmans of Sooke”: two Ediths, with Paul and Victor [see photo].
The recently deceased Kay Mitchell (wife of long-time NDP MLA Frank Mitchell) was honoured in speeches by Bob Phillips, Moe Sihota and Premier Horgan. Sihota called Kay Mitchell an icon of the community, constituency and political party saying she was philosophically impacted by the Great Depression (and how people suffered from the hard-nosed aspects of economic victimization) and World War II (with the need to build a better life). Kay held true to values and committed to the cause, he said.
Maureen Mitchell-Starkey (one of Kay and Frank’s two daughters) said afterward she was pleased with the kind words about her mother Kay, who recently passed away from cancer at age 91. Mitchell-Starkey has had a long career working for the provincial NDP.
Premier John Horgan went over some old history of how the NDP came to hold the riding, and touched briefly on some current political issues such as the upcoming referendum on proportional representation. He touched on a few of the local successes of his first year in office including improvements to Highway 14 upon which Sooke depends as a commuter-community.
Horgan reiterated the power of public education as “the great equalizer” and lauded “the power of great engaged teachers”, noting that the local SD62 board of education that guides education in the west shore is one of the fastest growing school districts in the province.
Horgan is back from about two weeks of vacation, and next week heads to Prince George to see some of the wildfire zone that BC is presently struggling with under a state of emergency.
There were lots of photo ops for Horgan fans, and selfies of course.
Security included each guest being asked to wear a wristband after signing in.
A small display table with information about proportional representation was presented by Fair Vote Canada.
Wednesday, August 15 ~ LANGFORD/SOOKE. Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey this morning around 8:30 am just received word that a joint team of firefighters from Langford, Sooke and Metchosin had arrived safely in Fort St James after a 14-hour drive.
“Sooke was requested by the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) to provide a fire engine and crew to Fort St James yesterday morning,” says Chief Aubrey. “Sooke, Metchosin and Langford partnered together last year by sending 1 to 2 firefighters each at a time to make up a 4-person crew. This allowed us to help while not depleting our resources locally and it worked extremely well.”
“We decided to continue that partnership and there are two Sooke firefighters, one Metchosin firefighter and one Langford firefighter on the current deployment using a Sooke fire engine,” said Chief Aubrey today August 15.
The team was to depart as soon as possible after the OFC call and they left for the interior at 5pm, August 14. “No doubt will be receiving their orders shortly, but their primary role will be structure protection of any homes or businesses,” explains Langford’s fire chief.
“They are all volunteer firefighters who have taken time off work to head to the interior and it was incredible to see so many of our local volunteers drop everything to go and help out another community in need,” says Aubrey. He says that each deployment period will be seven days and that the three fire departments will continue to send joint teams as long as the province needs firefighters.
After Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount received a resource request from the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), a call was put out to the Sooke volunteer fire department membership. “We put a call out to our membership and deployed two Sooke Firefighters (firefighter Rod Davis and firefighter Brandon Knowles), up to Fort St. James yesterday afternoon on Sooke’s Engine 3,” says Sooke FD communications rep Julie Barlow. Also now in Fort St James are Lieutenant Gord Grivel (Metchosin Fire) and Keith Detlor (Langford Fire).
The group photo, pictured left to right: Brandon Knowles (Sooke), Gord Grivel (Metchosin), Rod Davis (Sooke) and Keith Detlor (Langford).
Tuesday, August 14 ~ METCHOSIN. Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop and members of the Metchosin Fire Department arrived in Fort St James in north-central BC this evening. They’re helping out with an extreme wildfire scenario there.
Members of the Sooke and Langford fire departments are also helping out with efforts at wildfire suppression in the area. [Sooke FD update to come]
Fort St James has been on evacuation alert since Saturday August 11. Now, nearly the 1,600 residents of Fort Saint James are being urged to prepare for evacuation if the forest fires come closer to the community.
The Shovel Lake fire is estimated to be 31,500 hectares and currently raging about 35 km away from the western border of Fort Saint James.
Sunday, August 12 ~ METCHOSIN. UPDATE at 9:30 pm – Hwy 14 is now open.
[First posting at 3:30 pm / updated 5:45 pm]: Road closure of Highway 14 (Sooke Road) in both directions from about 2 pm to probably mid-evening, due to vehicle crash in the Metchosin stretch of that highway between Langford and Sooke.
It was a single-vehicle crash, resulting in minor injuries, said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop. Attending on scene were Metchosin Fire Dept, BC Ambulance Service, RCMP, and BC Hydro.
As of 5 pm still awaiting TELUS crews to come deal with lines down. Detours at Happy Valley Road and Kangaroo Road. www.drivebc.ca
Friday, August 10 ~ SOOKE. Sooke municipality busy with meetings in August.
While things are pretty quiet in most municipalities of the west shore during the summer months, the District of Sooke has an active slate of meetings scheduled in this last half of August:
• Regular Council | Mon Aug 13, 7pm
• Development & Land Use Ctte | Wed Aug 15, 10 am
• Affordable Housing Ctte | Thurs Aug 23, 1 pm
• Sooke Program of the Arts Ctte | Wed Aug 29, 5:30 pm
A candidate information session was held in Sooke on August 1. Nominations for the positions of Mayor and Councillor (six seats) officially open with Elections BC on September 4.
Monday, August 6 ~ SOOKE ~ at the roundabout. The central landscaped area of the roundabout was dressed up with dozens of little flags to help with the festive energy of BC Day long weekend.
A fire five years ago (July 31, 2013) destroyed the previous building at the front portion of the Evergreen Shopping Centre.
The large Partners REIT sign outside Evergreen Shopping Centre this summer in Sooke says ‘Proposed New Development’, with suggested commercial units of 1,000 to 4,200 sf. Frontage there in 6600-block Sooke Road at the roundabout in town centre would be ideal for suitable retail shops or offices.
The roundabout was installed in 2015. The roundabout project was a partnership between the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the District of Sooke. The Province contributed $6 million and the District of Sooke contributed $3.1 million.
The completion of Sooke Town Centre improvements in 2015 was said in a government news release at the time to be important for the community toward reducing GHG emissions, improving storm water quality, increasing safety for all commuters, and providing an inviting environment for residents.
[An earlier, shorter version of this article was published on page 3 in the August 3, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News . The print edition is for sale on the newsstand at Shoppers Drug Mart, Sooke.]
Sunday, August 5 ~ SOOKE. The RCMP Musical Ride was last on Vancouver Island in 2017 at Royal Roads in Colwood as part of Canada 150 Celebrations, and before that in 2013 at the Saanich Fairgrounds.
“This time around we wanted to do something special for Sooke,” says former Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander Steve Wright who is now retired, living in Sooke, and volunteering with the Sooke Lions Club.
About 20 people are helping organize the event, including members of the two Lions Clubs and Lioness Club in the area. The Sooke Community Association is participating with the event as it is occurring at Fred Milne Park. “As well we have involved people outside of our club as well for their expertise in specific areas,” says Wright.
The matinee on Saturday August 18 will start at 2 pm (gates open at noon). The sunset performance on Sunday August 19 sees the gates open at 4 pm for the 6 pm show, concluding close to the 8:20 pm sunset.
“The musical ride is a long-standing tradition in the RCMP and is well known around the world,” says Wright. “Members who are successful in getting on the ride travel around Canada and the world representing our iconic Force.”
RCMP officers participating in the formal equestrian showcase make an exclusive three-year commitment — no other policing duties. Transferring to Ottawa, members train for about a year, then travel for two more. Members apply and then must pass a one-month equestrian course.
Horses mainly travel in tractor trailer units. For overseas travel, they fly. Horses are trained from an early age to travel and the horses all take it in stride.
Special memories from Saanich in 2013: “We raised a lot of money for two children’s charities ($65,000). We had a lot of fun working with other Lions Clubs to put on an amazing two-day event that is affordable for families,” said Wright.
“It is very special for us to host a world class event in Sooke. We have tried to sell as many tickets as possible in Sooke prior to selling them elsewhere,” he said this week. Tickets are available in Sooke at Shoppers, Pharmasave and the RCMP Detachment; also at Willow Wind Feed in Langford and Esquimalt Dry Cleaners.
As a treat for local seniors, two RCMP Members and their horses will make a special visit to Ayre Manor in Sooke town centre where they will talk to the residents and display the horses to people who may not be able to attend the crowd-size performances.
The National Band of the Naval Reserve will perform both days as the pre-show entertainment. The band will also do a free concert in Sooke on Sunday August 12 at Ed Macgregor Park, 2 pm.
There are 2,200 tickets to be sold for each performance. Portable bleachers and some chairs will be the available seating; people will not be allowed to bring their own lawn chairs due to limited room. “We are not using the artificial turf. We will be using the lower field closest to Sooke Road,” says Wright.
Planning for this event started five years ago right after the Musical Ride in Saanich. “We applied to host the Musical Ride immediately following our last show. We started our planning sessions for the event in Sooke in January 2018 when we were awarded the Musical Ride, says Wright. Premier John Horgan along is planning to attend one of the performances.
Organizers suggest buying tickets ahead of time, not wait until the August 18 and 19 performance days. All tickets $5. There will be a food concession and RCMP Musical Ride merchandise for sale — cash only. All profits go to the Canadian Cancer Society / Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
More info: | Facebook: SookeMusicalRide | Twitter: @musicalride2018 | Email: email@example.com
This article was first published in the August 3, 2018 Print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (page 4)
Saturday, August 4 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in celebration of BC Day:
“On BC Day, the Government of British Columbia is joining people who are coming together to celebrate this beautiful province that we are so lucky to live in.
“British Columbia has been shaped by the people who have come together to help build and protect this extraordinary place. Our communities are made great by the talent and ingenuity of the people who live here, and by the values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect that bring us together.
“As we celebrate BC, we recognize our shared responsibility to advance reconciliation together with Indigenous peoples who have lived on this land since time immemorial, and to work together to right historical wrongs and build a better future.
“Let’s take the time to celebrate what we love about British Columbia. Visit a local farmers market, community event, go hiking or camping, or spend time with friends and family.
“We’re going to keep investing in people and working to make life better, with more opportunities for every person in every part of the province. I’m excited for the bright future ahead – for everyone in BC. Happy BC Day!”
Thursday, August 2 ~ WEST SHORE. Greater Victoria area real estate stats for the month of July 2018 were released yesterday by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Let’s start with the basics.
In the west shore, the average sale price of single family homes sold in Langford was $723,388 (48 sales) which is up by $29,219 from June. In Colwood the average was $774,180 (22 sales) which is down by $13,395 from June. In Sooke the average sale price was $552,100 (21 sales) which down by $26,536 from the June average sale.
For overall Greater Victoria the average sale was $929,543 in July 2018. Other than in February of this year, the average house price in GV this year has been above $900,000 (Jan $925,715, Feb $876,397, March $903,052, April $917,793 May $921,046).
Sales volume this year increased steadily from January (431) to May (755) then edged lower in June (708) and July (651). Summer is traditionally a slower sales period after the springtime burst usually seen March-May each year as homeowners with families try to set up summer move dates ahead of school starting in September or generally take advantage of good summer weather for moving.
Notably, the inventory of properties for sale has steady increased each month in 2018. From a lowpoint of 1,384 properties for sale at year-end 2017, inventory in January at 1,481 grew month by month to 2,607 in July 2018. The market supply is being replenished. This results from a few different factors: prices are high and going higher; the mortgage stress-test has eliminated easy fluidity for low-end sellers and first-time buyers; and the economy is some ways more uncertain (tariffs affecting some industries and the cost of living in general).
As well, uncertainty has resulted for the higher-end sector by their reaction to the looming BC Speculation Tax which has already chilled the interest of buyers in the higher end of the market. Those same factors that the current BC government hopes will free up more housing are in fact creating market uncertainty that is beginning to spook some development projects, which perhaps have minimized, slowed or even been cancelled. BC housing policy that ramps up construction of affordable housing projects is numerically achieving ‘roofs over heads’ for people at the low end of socioeconomic scale – a good thing. But for people looking to buy a regular home with regular income, the prospects are not likely to improve under current conditions.
Last month condos sold in Langford on average broke the $400,000 price point, selling at $407,343. In Colwood in July condos sold at a whopping $532,450 (more than $100,000 higher than the June average). Condo product is infrequently available in Sooke (no sales in June or July). Condos overall in Greater Victoria in July sold at $474,924 which is drop of over $10,000 from June.
In the townhome market in July, the overall average dropped by over $52,000 from June to July 2018, setting at $563,718 in July. In Langford the average was $486,473, in Colwood $671,880, and in Sooke $563,718.
Thursday, August 2 ~ SOOKE. Highway 14 Traffic Alert. Maintenance work will take place on the westbound portion of Sooke Road (Highway 14) between 7pm and 9pm this evening, Thursday August 2.
The work will take place approximately 1.5 km west of the 4-lane section. Westbound traffic will be stopped for brief duration periods (5-7 minutes) while repair work commences.
The area that the repair work will take place is confined and has poor sight distance. Please drive with extreme caution and obey all construction signs and Traffic Control Person direction.
This notice was released by Mainroad South Island.
Wednesday, August 1 ~ SOOKE. The free community event Sooke Music & Art Festival will be held on Saturday, August 4 in Sooke, outdoors at 2197 Otter Point Rd in John Phillips Memorial Park, behind SpeedSource Fitness.
There will be two stages, featuring music acts by 12 bands. Vendor Village, food vendors, kids play area and other activities on site.
The family-friendly event starts 11 am and runs to about 10 pm (last band plays at 9 pm).
Includes demos by Art in the Park, including Linda Gordon of the Sooke Arts Council teaching “How to do Acrylic Painting” ( all paints and canvas provided, sign up on site).
This week’s editorial is about the stubbornly persistent discrimination against women in business and politics (page 2).
Coverage of the Artists Celebration at the Sooke Fine Arts Show is on page 3.
The super-hot weather is subsiding a bit coming into this first week of August. The Weather Network shows temperatures more in the 20°C range instead of soaring up new 30°C like we saw this past week (page 4).
Saturday, July 28 ~ SOOKE. Premier John Horgan feels right at home at the Sooke Fine Arts Show. He attends the Saturday night Artists Celebration evening just about every year.
Mingling for almost two hours after the formal presentation of awards to artists, an endless stream of people approached Horgan as they meandered through the nicely appointed art exhibit.
There were compliments, questions and comments for the popular Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA who became BC’s 36th Premier just over a year ago.
But don’t touch the art, John!
::: PHOTO July 28 at the 32nd Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show: Premier John Horgan admires a 3D piece created with glass, steel, driftwood, and rocks featuring swimming salmon, called Flow+Cycle/Home by Christopher Smith.
Friday, July 27 ~ SOOKE. The 32 annual Sooke Fine Arts Show (SFAS) opened today in Sooke. [View this article on its own page]
The show is presented for 11 days — July 27 to August 6 — within the SEAPARC Leisure Complex arena which becomes transformed into a professional exhibit space.
Items that sold last night at the Purchaser’s Preview event were mostly paintings, and a few 3D pieces.
A full house was achieved last night, with ticket-holders including sponsors, community leaders and the general public. “It was a very social mix,” says SFAS Executive Director Christa Rossner.
“These people come out to support the arts community,” says Jen Hayward, Administrative Coordinator.
“We’ve opened up the show floor, so it feels more open when you first come in,” says SFAS President Geraldine McGuire. First in the sight line this year is the Gift Shop, instead of the information booth which is now off to the left of the entry.
Of the 380 art pieces in the show this year, there is the usual range of genres including paintings, photography, fabric art, sculpture, jewelry, woodwork, pottery and more.
Each year there are three new jurors who sort through all the submissions and select final pieces for the show. This year’s jurors are Nick Bantock, Lee Gass and Wendy Welch.
This year there are repeating themes in soft, pastel blue-grey tones that are punctuated in other sections by oranges, reds and bright tones. A distinctly ‘enjoy the bright colours’ section is presented in the far back corner, perhaps adding an energy lift for the return walk through the rest of the show and back to the main gathering space that includes a little seating area with a stage where live music is played pretty much throughout the show hours (10 am to 7pm most days).
Compared to the past several years, there seems to be slightly less pottery and jewelry, and more paintings. One piece that elicited delight from people passing by was a collection of felt salmon hanging from a line. People also seemed quite interested in carved furniture (including a coffee table and chest). One painting was a direct take-off from the style of Ted Harrison. Bright red flower paintings, photos, sculpture art and fabric pieces are vibrantly placed to visually pop up as the show is toured.
Show details: www.sookefinearts.com
Sunday, July 22 ~ SOOKE. SEAPARC announces facility redesign. A concept design for the expansion of the SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke has been approved by the The Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission (SEAPARC) board, it was announced July 20 by the Capital Regional District (CRD).
“The Commission is very excited that after 10 years of discussion we are close to building a fantastic fitness facility for our residents,” said Mike Hicks, SEAPARC Chair.
“Careful consideration is being given to the location of the expansion,” says Steve Knoke, SEAPARC Manager. The new facility will be flexible, efficient and work with SEAPARC’s existing site. “SEAPARC wants to create an open inviting and accessible place for our residents to improve their health and wellness,” says Knoke.
In April 2018, SEAPARC Leisure Complex received a $1.24 million grant from the Strategic Priorities Federal Gas Tax Fund. This grant together with SEAPARC’s capital funding is being used to invest in the new $2.75 million fitness facility and multi-purpose expansion space. Property taxpayers in both the District of Sooke and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area contribute an annual levy to SEAPARC.
The project architect is Studio 531 Architects Inc. The preliminary design phase now includes concept review and considerations around physical location, ease of customer access, administration and operations effectiveness, and efficient use of existing facility resources.
The proposed site is on the west side of the existing SEAPARC building, adjacent to the current multi-purpose rooms and board room. Construction is expected to run 11 months in 2019 (February through December). More details: www.crd.bc.ca/project/capital-projects/seaparc-leisure-complex-expansion
> As first published on page 3 in the July 20, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
Organized by the Sooke Community Arts Council and the Sooke Fall Fair group, the combined event is a relaxing opportunity to appreciate local arts and hobbies.
Booths and tables with arts and crafts for sale. Cars on display.
Tuesday, July 17 ~ On Wednesday, July 18 at noon, all open burning (including campfires and Category 3 fires) will be prohibited within the Coastal Fire Centre, with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the fog zone.
Category 2 open burning is already prohibited in the region. The additional prohibitions will help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. They will remain in effect until Oct. 19, 2018, or until the public is otherwise notified. A map of the affected areas is available online at: http://ow.ly/j94230kZQgz
the fire prohibitions are due to high temperatures and no rain in the immediate forecast. Since April 1 of this year, 69% of wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre have been caused by people. Human-caused wildfires are considered to be entirely preventable, and can divert critical firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires.
These prohibitions apply to all public and private land, unless specified otherwise – for example, in a local government bylaw. Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.
In Sooke, their prohibition announcement came out this afternoon, specifying that their ban applies to all open burning including campfires, beach fires and backyard fire pits within the District of Sooke. Burn barrels are prohibited year-round. “Propane and gas fueled BBQ’s and campfires are still permitted but are to be used with caution and only in appropriate areas,” says Matt Barney, Assistant Fire Chief, Sooke Fire Department.
CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes and portable campfire apparatus (using briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel) are okay in the Coast Fire Centre, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm in height.
The following activities are also prohibited:
* open fires that burn woody debris in outdoor stoves
* the use of stoves and other portable campfire apparatuses that are not CSA-approved or ULC-approved
* the use of tiki torches, fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, chimineas, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
* the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the U.S.-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii.
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
Friday, July 13 ~ BC. Keeping a distance from whales: new regulations. Whales and other marine mammals are the subject of new Canadian regulations (previously recommendations) by which boaters are to maintain certain distances or be faced with hefty fines.The new rules that came into effect July 11 require boaters to maintain a 100-metre buffer zone (200 metres for orcas).
Under the Fisheries Act, penalties range from $100,000 to $500,000. Repeat offences could result in a higher fine amount or even imprisonment, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The new rules will impact the on-water tourism industry, particularly whale-watching excursions. Vessels must stay out of the path of oncoming whales out to 400 yards (366 m). Vessels may not intercept a whale or be positioned in the path of a whale.
Among other reasons, the proximity of loud motorized vessels is thought to interfere with the ability of whales to communicate with each other for feeding or maintaining pod cohesion.
In BC, the orca is an iconic aspect of regional arts and culture, tourism, and Indigenous culture.
Friday, July 13 ~ SOOKE. West Coast Natural Foods in Sooke is now open seven days a week. Their first full Sunday business day was last weekend.
Popular with both locals and tourists at their 5-6716 West Coast Road location (just west of Otter Point Road in the same mall as Pharmasave), West Coast Natural Foods is now in its 15th year.
Store owner Karam feels it’s important to serve a full-weekend clientele who enjoy the availability of a wide range of vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements as well as the natural foods, cereals, snacks and other items like candles and oils.
The new business hours are 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday and now Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.
For more info on what products are available at West Coast Natural Foods, the phone number is 250-642-4011.
Monday, July 9 ~ SOOKE. The wildfire at Tugwell Creek is now 100% contained, as of mid-morning Monday July 9. The fire was first detected at a size of 4 hectares on July 2 and reached 84 hectares at its largest active point.
“Crews are working inward from the perimeter, doing mop-up activities,” says Juan de Fuca Emergency Coordinator Jeri Grant today, July 9.
Yesterday on Sunday July 8, there were still 63 firefighters, two pieces of heavy equipment, seven water tenders, and two helicopters on site, for attending to the active wildfire.
The fire event is now called ‘non active’ by the BC Wildfire Service. Mopping-up including looking for hot spots and putting those out. That process can take one to two weeks with ground crews, heavy equipment and water tenders, says Grant.
Some BC Wildfire information last week showed the burned area to be as much as 100 hectares. “But the area that burned out didn’t get beyond 84 hectares,” says Grant. “It looked larger than that with all the smoke, but once helicopters got up in the air Friday morning, the 84-hectare area was confirmed.
Smoke from the fire reached into parts of Greater Victoria for a few days during the most active burning period.
Is the approach to encouraging public transit use (six new bus pullouts) the right approach for major expenditure? There have also been recent improvements with lighting, safety signage, speed readers, and line painting plus specific bridge improvements and work along Otter Point Road.
Are crosswalks working well in town centre? What about the no-left-turns at Townsend Road that have impacted business and community — can that be reversed? Are there enough signalized intersections (in addition to the one coming at Sooke River Road)?
What about the confusing road name change to West Coast Road after you’re west of Otter Point Road?
With the Premier being MLA for the area that includes Highway14-dependent Sooke, this is an optimal time for input.
This online opportunity for input follows the walkabout display-board public input event that was held at EMCS in Sooke last month.
>> This article first published in the July 6, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
Saturday, July 7 ~ JUAN DE FUCA. As of 11:25 am today Saturday July 7, the Tugwell Creek fire west of Sooke is being held (unlikely to spread) at 80% contained.
Resources today include 88 firefighters, seven water tenders, heavy equipment and three helicopters says #BCwildfire | @BCGovFireInfo
The fire is on private forestry land. A nearby beekeeper’s operation is apparently not adversely affected. Smoke has periodically reached into the Greater Victoria area contributing to grey skies and minor air quality issues for some residents.
Thursday, July 5 ~ JUAN de FUCA. [UPDATE at 11:30 pm July 5 – fire partially contained, size is 84 hectares.]
The size of the wildfire area at Tugwell Creek was up to 100 hectares as of late last night. It’s one of 54 fires currently listed as a ‘fire of note’ in BC. BC Wildifre crews will be on scene again today, with the continued use of planes dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water.
The fire that started July 2 somehow became ignited in an area of timber leftovers from logging (known as ‘slash’).
See the Juan de Fuca page for further updates on this wildfire.
Tuesday, July 3 ~ VICTORIA AREA / West Shore focus. The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) said that in June the uncertainty of the real estate market has produced predictability, i.e. lower overall volume of sales. Their news release this month concentrated almost entirely on inventory levels and government pressures on the market.
But the elephant in the room is the ever-increasing housing prices in the Greater Victoria area. Last month the single family home average sale price was $889,097.
In the West Shore, which is considered affordable, in June the average house sale price was creeping closer to $600,000 in Sooke, was nearly $700,000 in Langford, and is creeping up toward $800,000 in Colwood. Condo prices are holding under the $400,000 price point in Langford. Here are the June 2018 prices for Langford, Colwood and Sooke (compared to the Greater Victoria average):
Single Family Homes:
Langford 60 sales $694,169
Colwood 12 sales $787,575
Sooke 26 sales $578,646
GV 317 sales $889,097
Langford 40 sales $378,655
Colwood 4 sales $428,250
Sooke no sales
GV 229 sales $485,158
Langford 14 sales $608,900
Colwood 6 sales $723,250
Sooke 6 sales $425,767
GV 77 sales $615,919
A total of 708 properties sold in the Victoria region region this June, which is 29.8% fewer than the 1,008 properties sold in June last year, and a 6.2% drop from May 2018. The condominium sales tally was down 25.1% compared to June 2017 with 230 units sold, while the single family home sales volume was down 34.7% from 2017 with 357 sold this June.
Kyle Kerr, VREB President points to the mortgage stress test as a key impact on sales declines: “Because of decelerating growth due to aggressive government implementation of policies to reduce demand, Victoria’s real estate market has been hobbled since the start of the year when federal restrictions around mortgage qualifications were rolled out. Even demand side measures that are not yet live,” said Kerr, referring to the BC Speculation Tax that is specific to the Vancouver/Kelowna/Nanaimo/Capital Region which he says are dragging the market down as many consumers stand aside to watch what happens.”
No mention that the biggest brunt of cooling the housing market hits people least able to afford it — entry level buyers and the owners of homes at the lower-end price point. When gainfully employed people can’t buy a home, they end up near the top end of the rental market which is expensive and also displaces other renters.
There were 2,595 active listings for sale on the VREB MLS at the end of June 2018. That’s up 8.4% compared to the previous month, and 35.5% more than the 1,915 active listings for sale at the end of June 2017. Last year with the specter of rising interest rates and the pending stress test, housing inventory was rapidly depleted.
Listed properties are lingering longer on the market than usual, Kerr said. “The slower pace of the market has created more time for buyers who may have been hesitant to jump in during the high pressure market conditions of recent years.”
The development community has been hoping to see more supply. “If we see more listings over the next few months we may be heading back into a more balanced market situation,” Kerr said in the VREB news release.
Tuesday, July 3 ~ SOOKE. The District of Sooke is participating in the BC Communities in Bloom (CiB) program for the eighth time this summer. Two judges will be hosted during Monday July 16 through Wednesday July 18, including a tour and various events and meals.
The judges will evaluate the Sooke community on six criteria, consisting of: • Tidiness • Environmental Action • Heritage Conservation • Urban Forestry • Landscape • Floral Displays.
Coordinated by the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee, the judges will travel within Sooke, accompanied by municipal representatives as tour guides who will highlight various new and innovative improvements to the town, The focus of evaluation will include: Municipal, Business and Institutions, Residential and Community Involvement.
Transportation issues for Sooke residents as commuters to work and education in locations outside of Sooke could impact the decisions about business and institutions.
In previous years the tour has included locations such as Sooke Region Museum, Sunriver Community Gardens, Sooke Harbour House, Sooke River Campground, and much more. The roundabout in Sooke town center is likely to be a highlight this year, as a central point around which the town now identifies. As well, the site of the future new Sooke Library on Wadams Way (along with the new designs as unveiled in May) is likely to be a highlight for the judges.
Greenery is tough in the middle of a hot dry summer but the evaluation is not all about landscaping or flowers. The provincial CiB uses the tagline “People, Plants and Pride…Growing Together” and describes itself as “a province-wide recognition and bloom award program providing a framework for municipal participants to reinvigorate and enhance their communities liveability.”
Enhancing Community Livability is stated as a top strategic priority of District of Sooke Council. Mayor Maja Tait was quoted today in a news release: “The Communities in Bloom program is an excellent opportunity to promote the landscaped and natural beauty of Sooke. Sooke’s participation also allows us to come together with community organizations, business owners and individuals to celebrate the many progressive environmental, beautification, and cultural enrichment activities of our community.”
Tait acknowledges her “gratitude” to members of the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee, as well as the community volunteers, businesses and residents of Sooke who have participated this year.
Sooke has received the highest rating of “5 Blooms” (80% or better) for the last four evaluation years, but those years were not consecutive. One year was missed, for reasons of budget and visual interruption due to construction of the roundabout.
The District of Sooke is the only town or community on Vancouver Island that is participating in the provincial program this year.
Saturday, June 30 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 hears from 58% of their employees. [Read this article on its own page]
At their June 26 board meeting, the Sooke School District (SD62) board heard the preliminary results of a workforce engagement (employment satisfaction) survey done by the BC Government.
As reported out with stats and display graphics by Public Sector Research and Evaluation Manager Angela Matheson, it was shown that about 58% of SD62 employees participated.
Some key findings included — as might be expected within the teaching profession — that ‘organizational commitment’ was high, while overall organizational satisfaction showed a range of results.
A hybrid analysis found some things that appeared to be red flags for senior administration: 8% of respondents were pegged as ‘minimally engaged’, with another 6% as ‘disengaged’. Some interesting categories of ‘happily detached’ (8%) and also ‘unhappily dedicated’ (7%) were considered to be anomalies.
Generally speaking, job stability and pay levels were not contentious issues, as compared to the general base of public sector employees.
The survey was thought to be important at this time, as a significant number of new teachers have joined SD62 in the past year or two, and are therefore at the start of their employment curve with SD62 which is one of the largest employers in the west shore.
As might be expected, participation rates in the survey were lowest (23%) for teachers were are on-call (i.e. not full time). Those who work within SD62’s Westshore Centre for Learning and Training who work extensively with online technology and deal more directly with the workforce and a range of learning scenarios, showed the highest survey participation rate (90%).
The last survey of a similar nature was done by the school board back in 2003. Trustee Margot Swinburnson said she hoped this sort of information would be acquired more regularly. Trustee Denise Riley said the survey idea was initiated by senior administrative staff, to which Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull responded with a comment that the “morale and health” of the organization required some quantification with a baseline. Superintendent Jim Cambridge said that “engaged, happy, satisfied employees” are the goal.
:::: This article first published in the June 29, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
Friday, June 29 ~ The District Sooke Lioness group is holding a garage/yard sale to raise funds for their many causes including supports for women and children in need, literacy programs, and Christmas bureau hampers.
The garage sale is coming up next weekend on Saturday July 7, at 1646 Winnifred Place, in Sooke. From 9 am to 1 pm that day.
Just a reminder that Friday June 29 is the deadline to sign up for taking summer courses with the Westshore Centre for Learning & Training (SD62). Courses are in various Grade 8 to 12 subject areas.
Great for buffing up that mark for post-secondary entrance, or filling in a timetable gap while still in high school.
Also open to working adults who need to finish their Grade 12 diploma.
The Sooke Fine Arts Society has received a Destination BC Tourism and Events Program (TEP) grant providing a large funding influx for the purchase of additional advertising to promote their 32nd annual Sooke Fine Arts Show which runs July 27 to August 6.
The expanded marketing reach now includes TV and radio, The Vancouver Sun, and large digital signage boards.
This is “to a level that would not otherwise be available to us as a non-profit organization,” says Christa Brenan, Executive Director, Sooke Fine Arts Society. Brenan took part in a destination marketing event last month in Sooke among other local business leaders.
For the past several years, the highly acclaimed exhibit and sale has attracted over 8,000 visitors (local, regional and beyond). A higher number of patrons may find their way to Sooke this year, as a result of the broader marketing scope.
The TEP grant through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is available to events of middle-to-large scale that can help shine light on attractions and the natural beauty of different areas in BC.
Premier John Horgan (MLA for the Sooke region) will be attending the Sooke Fine Arts Show again this year.
Friday, June 22 ~ SOOKE. Done deal! Three new sets of bus pullouts are now complete along Highway 14 (Sooke Road), as part of a number of improvements to boost safety, reduce congestion and keep people moving along the corridor.
The official announcement was made today June 22 by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
The pullouts, on both sides of Highway 14, are located at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road and Harbourview Road.
The pullouts allow for buses to move fully out of traffic, reducing congestion and the risk of collisions, while providing a safe area for transit users to enter and exit the buses.
The bus pullouts have deceleration and acceleration lanes, new bus shelters, plus railings and enhanced lighting at all six stops. The stops at Laidlaw and Harbouview also have new, illuminated crosswalks, allowing pedestrian traffic to safely cross Highway 14, in order to access or depart from the new bus stop locations.
MOTI says these pullouts are the first step in the Province’s $10-million investment in immediate upgrades on Highway 14, as part of the multi-phased safety, transit and congestion improvement strategy announced roadside by Premier John Horgan in January 2018.
More potential upgrades are under development in consultation with the community; an open house was held June 19 in Sooke, with public input being accepted to July 15 at www.gov.bc.ca/highway14 .
The ministry recently completed lighting upgrades at each intersection on Highway 14 between Highway 1 and the Sooke River Bridge. As well, new safety signs are now visible at Kangaroo, Gillespie and Parkland Roads.
Wednesday, June 20 ~ SOOKE. If travelling on Highway 14 is part of your day for commuting, business or tourism, here’s your chance for public input on improvements to that long Corridor. It runs from Veterans Memorial Parkway in Langford, west through the communities of Sooke and Jordan River, all the way to Port Renfrew.
Yesterday evening in Sooke about 140 people attended a public open house regarding Highway 14 corridor improvements. Ministry staff felt the response of attendees was positive overall. About 20 feedback forms were handed in at the session. “We will assess the comments when the engagement period closes on July 15,” says MOTI.
The open house was an opportunity to present an update on previously announced projects that are underway for the corridor (including a major roadside announcement in Sooke by Premier John Horgan on January 19), and gather feedback from the community on future priorities for Highway 14. Materials from the open house, including the online feedback form, are available at www.gov.bc.ca/highway14
Public feedback is being considered along with technical, environmental and financial information. The resultant transportation improvements are intended to help ensure that Hwy 14 meets the needs of users in the short and long term. Public input can be provided up to July 15, 2018 online at gov.bc.ca/highway14 or by emailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org . Written feedback can be sent to MOTI, 3rd Floor, 2100 Labieux Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9
Various improvements already in the $10 million improvements plan include:
- the installation of signalized lights at Sooke River Road (construction to begin Fall 2018).
- a new eastbound lane added at Jacklin Road to allow transit to bypass the traffic queues at the signalized Jacklin Road intersection (construction to be completed by Fall 2018).
- Bus pullouts have been installed (2 at West Shore Parkway, 2 at Laidlaw, 2 at Harbourview).
- Arrows on the curve near Gillespie Road and the 17 Mile Pub have been installed, some of which are made more visible with LED. There is now also a flashing beacon at Kangaroo Rd.
- Speed reader boards have been installed at Parkland Road.
- Paving on Otter Point Road is being done this summer.
- The Sombrio rest area design improvements are complete, with construction this summer. A slow vehicle pullout east of Muir Creek is being designed for construction this summer.
Tuesday, June 19 ~ SOOKE. If travelling on Highway 14 is part of your day for commuting, business or tourism, here’s your chance for public input on improvements to that long corridor.
The provincial route runs from Veterans Memorial Parkway in Langford, west through the communities of Sooke and Jordan River, all the way to Port Renfrew.
Written feedback can be sent to Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, 3rd Floor, 2100 Labieux Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9
Friday, June 15 ~ SOOKE. A survey about health services in Sooke is online at www.sooke.ca/health. Ongoing updates regarding Sooke Region Primary Care will also be posted at that site following this weekend’s open house on health planning in the region.
The survey focuses on use of the existing West Coast Family Medical Clinic. Questions include whether or not you already have a family doctor, and where you go for urgent care with the West Coast Family Medical Clinic is closed.
The open house on Saturday, June 16 will be hosted by the District of Sooke, South Island Division of Family Practice, and Island Health to present the Sooke Region Community Health Services Planning document. It runs from 1 to 4 pm, at Sooke Baptist Church, 7110 West Coast Road.
“Community Health Service planning has brought together multiple partners focused on developing local solutions for Sooke,” states the District of Sooke. They are providing the open house as an opportunity for the community to learn about the planning document, the priorities identified, and the proposed objectives to support improved access to health care in the region.
Financial resources and responsibility for public health care rest largely within the provincial government, making the role of local government one of advocacy.
In December of 2013, a Primary Health Care Services Working Group (PHCSWG) was formed, based on input from the community and an existing municipal initiative to address broad health and social needs.
The PHCSWG brings together local and regional health care professionals, and since 2013 the group has tackled a multitude of community health needs, including physician recruitment, improved medical imaging services (X-ray and ultrasound), Sooke X-Ray Briefing Document 2016 (In late 2017, West Coast Medical Imaging improved the X-Ray technology available in Sooke), collaborating on research and programming regarding the support needs of senior citizens, advocacy for continued support of existing health infrastructure, and hosting two community forums to collect input on community needs and share resources.
That was followed by a Health Summit in May 2016 at Sooke Community Hall, with break-out groups where discussion drilled down into specific issues.
The District of Sooke admits that the idea of a “one-stop shop” Health Care Centre has been discussed in Sooke for more than a decade, with several proposals coming forward during that time. Varying circumstances have halted each proposal, but the need for expanded primary care has not changed.
It was announced by the BC Government last week that this fall a full team-based primary care centre will open in Surrey, where a larger population is ideal for the initiative.
The focus of the PHCSWG in Sooke over the past year has been on further exploring improved Primary Health Care for the Sooke Region. A steering committee which includes representation from Island Health was tasked with moving this initiative forward, with a stakeholder engagement session held in November 2017. The Sooke Region Community Health Planning Document outlines the key themes and priorities from this session.
Last week four of the six bus shelters along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) were seen to be in place; all to be finished soon and some clearly already in use. There are also some new LED large arrow signs along the curve near the 17-Mile pub.
For those who drive into Victoria from the west shore, note that the left turn from Hwy 1 onto Carey Road was closed as of June 10, making way for the new northbound bus lane.
This week construction crews began building a new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road at Roche Cove, which is an important alternative route to Hwy 14 during those closures that cause considerable traffic delays when there’s a crash or bad weather conditions on the Hwy 14 corridor that is so essential for Sooke commuters.
- The $3.66 million contract work by North Gate Pacific Contracting Ltd. of Maple Ridge includes a two-lane concrete bridge on an improved road alignment, with 1.5-metre paved shoulders for safer crossing by pedestrians and cyclists. It will replace the existing single-lane timber bridge, and is expected to open to traffic in fall 2018.
- In the coming weeks and months, delays of up to 20 minutes may occur 9am to 3pm Monday to Saturday to accommodate rock blasting.
- There will also be a small number of full-day closures which will be posted in advance on roadside message signs, with a detour via Kangaroo Rd and East Sooke Rd.
The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure will be holding a public input opportunity in Sooke soon. Many Sooke-area businesses and residents have for years been calling for Hwy 14 to be a more reliable commuter route in and out of the town. Improvements to highway infrastructure and public transit are being seen as the response from the provincial government under Premier John Horgan, who is MLA for the region.
[Updated from the article that first ran in the June 8, 2018 West Shore Voice News print/PDF edition]
It’s not often that you see one candidate run for two positions in the same election. But coming up this fall, former District of Sooke Councillor Herb Haldane is back in the game with a footprint in two camps: running for a council seat in the District of Sooke and also for the position of Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) director. To the Sooke council he would bring two terms of experience (2008-2011 & 2011-2014). He says his run at the JDFEA position is so he can have a seat at the CRD board table, as he sees problems with regional governance. In 2014 Haldane ran against Maja Tait for mayor; Tait achieved a 2-to-1 win. In JDFEA, Haldane will be up against 3-term JDFEA director Mike Hicks. Haldane is a home builder in the Sooke area.
One more time. JDFEA director Mike Hicks says he is running “for the last time” in the upcoming October 2018 election. Hicks has stood up for water rights in the unincorporated JDFEA and over the years helped guide the preparation of official community plans in the area, toward the CRD’s finalization of the Regional Growth Strategy which finally occurred around the end of 2017. JDFEA includes East Sooke, and areas west of Sooke out to/ including Port Renfrew. Hicks has also served as the chair of the SEAPARC commission for the past few years; he produced a successful referendum to see SEAPARC get some expansion renovations (soon underway). Hicks and his family operate a B&B in the Sooke area.
> As first published in the June 8, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News (page 4)
Sunday, June 10 ~ WEST SHORE & SOOKE. Things are moving along with continued changes to commuter routes (highways and bus lanes).
- This past week four of the six bus shelters along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) were seen to be in place; all to be finished soon.
- For those who drive into Victoria from the west shore, note that the left turn from Hwy 1 onto Carey Road will be closed as of June 10, making way for the new northbound bus lane.
- Construction crews will begin building a new two-lane bridge next week on Gillespie Road at Roche Cove, which is an important alternative route to Hwy 14 during those closures that cause considerable traffic delays when there’s a crash or bad weather conditions on the Hwy 14 corridor that is so essential for Sooke commuters. The $3.66 million contract work by North Gate Pacific Contracting Ltd. of Maple Ridge includes a two-lane concrete bridge on an improved road alignment, with 1.5-metre paved shoulders for safer crossing by pedestrians and cyclists. It will replace the existing single-lane timber bridge, and is expected to open to traffic in fall 2018. In the coming weeks and months, delays of up to 20 minutes may occur 9am to 3pm Monday to Saturday to accommodate rock blasting. There will also be a small number of full-day closures which will be posted in advance on roadside message signs, with a detour via Kangaroo Rd and East Sooke Rd.
- The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure is reportedly holding a public input opportunity in Sooke soon. Many Sooke-area businesses and residents have for years been calling for Hwy 14 to be a more reliable commuter route in and out of the town. Improvements to highway infrastructure and public transit are being seen as the response from the provincial government under Premier John Horgan, who is MLA for the region.
Friday, June 8 ~ SOOKE. Last week at the EMCS grad ceremony (at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium, June 2), there were several speakers including Premier John Horgan, SD62 vice-chair Bob Phillips, 2018 Valedictorian Andrew Rodd, Class Historians Lucy Bridal and Colby Benty.
There were greetings from SD62 Associate Superintendent Dave Strange and District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. The Territorial Recognition was by Songhees Elder Burch Dick, with All Nations welcomes from the Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke Nations.
Following graduation, our students’ plans include working, starting apprenticeships, volunteering, travelling, and beginning post-secondary education. Over 60% of EMCS graduates plan to begin post-secondary studies in September and several have received entrance scholarships from colleges and universities. SD62 students will be moving on to a variety of post-secondary institutions including:
• Camosun College
• Douglas College
• John Casablancas Institute
• Justice Institute of BC
• Kwantlen Polytechnic
• Langara College
• Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
• Pacific Design Academy
• Simon Fraser University
• Sprott Shaw College
• St. Clair College
• University of Alberta
• University of British Columbia
• University of Victoria
• University of Winnipeg Collegiate
• Vancouver Film School
• Westcoast College of Massage Therapy
This year’s EMCS Graduates have been awarded well over $100,000 in scholarships and bursaries. SD62 thanks the many local sponsors for their generous support of EMCS students.
There was a Destination Marketing and tourism economy discussion in Sooke on Sunday afternoon, May 27. The afternoon event at Vancouver Island Lodge offered a detailed exploration of what it would take to establish the District of Sooke (possibly in combination with the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area) to become a government-approved as a Destination Marketing region and be able to collect an accommodation tax on recreational establishments of four or more rooms in the Sooke to Port Renfrew region.
Guest speakers were Peter Harrison from Destination BC; Calum Matthews from Tourism Vancouver Island; Brian White who is program head for the Master of Arts in Tourism Management program at Royal Roads University (RRU); and Kathleen Gilbert of the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission.
Intel contributions about the region were offered by Sooke Region Museum director Lee Boyko, and Mike Hicks who operates a small B&B. Also attending were District of Sooke Councillors Kevin Pearson, Rick Kasper and Brenda Parkinson.
Discussion was mainly about whether the Sooke region should sign up for the the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) by which accommodation businesses could collect a per-night levy of 2% or 3% that goes to the BC government for payment back to the group that collected it. Or whether a business working group is preferable (less structure but possibly less transparent/accountable).
The underlying thrust for the event was to somehow increase revenues to be put toward marketing tourism in the full Sooke region. For many years that tourism marketing function was the municipality’s expectation of the Sooke Region Tourism Association (SRTA) which largely used an annual grant from the District of Sooke (and a matching grant from Tourism Vancouver Island) to maintain a well-paid web contract and for large ad buys in (Alberta, Washington state, and Oregon as opposed to to island and BC audiences.
District of Sooke Acting CAO Brent Blackhall said Sunday: “We almost got there” referring to discussions among local tourism leaders and the District. Apparently $30,000 “is not enough” said tourism operators that day.
A 2% levy could bring in much more, which a core group of tourism operators say would attract more visitors to the region. The 3% tax sees 20% of total collections retained by Destination BC for redistribution to groups for putting on special events.
RRU’s Brian White reminded proponents that a business plan comes first. Destination BC has strict guidelines and a strident application process.
Currently 56 communities around BC operate MRDT programs (19 of those at the 3% level), generating $60 million per year. Of those programs, about 70% are authorized through local governments who then hire a contractor, 15% are managed by tourism organizations, and 10% directly are handled directly by local government.
Langford recently signed on with MRDT; a 2% room tax starts Nov 1.
[This article was first published in the June 1, 2018 print/PDF edition of West Shore Voice News, page 5]
Friday, June 1 ~ SOOKE. True Key Hotels & Resorts this week announced SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort as the newest addition to the True Key management portfolio. It’s True Key’s ninth property in BC and second in the Sooke region (the other is Sooke Harbour Resort & Marina on West Coast Road).
“SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort embodies perfectly the luxury properties True Key is proud to manage,” said True Key’s president Michael Anderson, heralding the oceanside location, views of the natural environment, and “impressive experiences”.
SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort is a newly developed resort on the southwest tip of Vancouver Island in East Sooke, perched cliff-side above the Pacific Ocean. Ferry transport across the Sooke basic might be set up.
The 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom premium rental suites offer 640 to 1340 sqft living area with oversize walls of glass offering 180-degree views.
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