Transportation Master Planning & Projects
Updated May 25, 2023
The Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is a long-term guide for the planning, design, and development of transportation facilities and infrastructure. The TMP, approved in October 2020, was prepared in conjunction with the District’s Parks and Trails Master Plan (PTMP) and in consideration of many existing plans and policies including BC Transit’s concurrent Sooke Local Area Transit Plan. The TMP was developed with the participation of Sooke residents, key community stakeholders, District staff and Council to ensure the plan addresses current transportation issues and reflects community values and interests. READ DOCUMENT >>
Transportation-related Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
We know there are many questions about transportation planning in Sooke and our growing community. District staff will keep residents informed by responding to your questions and updating this page regularly.
When traffic advisories are shared with the District, they are posted to the Traffic Advisories page of our website. For real-time traffic information, please refer to drivebc.ca. Where motor vehicle incidents cause traffic delays, best efforts are made to share current information through the District Twitter page.
This project is led by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI). For project details, please visit Highway 14 – Corridor Improvements posted by the province. As the District receives project updates from MOTI, they are posted to the Highway 14 project page of the District website. Please also view a photo gallery of the work here.
Council authorized the issuance of the development permit on May 23, 2023. Next, the applicant will work with staff to acquire building permits. While it will be some time before occupancy on the site, within this project, the developer is required to provide several road enhancements including a connection via Lanark and a new bus bay off the shoulder of Highway 14 — both of which will assist with traffic flow. Additionally, the site will be developed with pedestrian connectivity to support non-vehicular travel within the community.
In addition to the housing contributions, BC Housing has made a significant contribution to the District’s road improvement program. The intersection at Charters will be upgraded to a signal light, that will enable vehicles to turn left from Charters onto Sooke Road. Charters itself will be fully upgraded as well and include a sidewalk.
At the same time, with developer contributions and endorsement of a grant application, the District is planning for considerable road improvements from Phillips to Throup to Grant Road.
This will alleviate the congestion on Sooke Road and provide a safer connection for pedestrians and cyclists.
Timelines are not yet known. The District will keep the community informed as timelines are verified.
- See also: development announcement from BC Housing
Prior to the District of Sooke incorporating as a Municipality in 1999, Sooke was a small bedroom community that did not experience much growth, and most of the infrastructure was built to rural standards. Unfortunately, the current infrastructure does not efficiently support the desired level of service, specifically for transportation and utility infrastructure.
In short, the infrastructure is built to rural standards and requires updating. The current locals of schools along Highway 14 also create traffic congestion.
The Ministry of Transportation as well as the District of Sooke are currently working on multiple initiatives (in unison and independently) to address the required transportation infrastructure needs to improve the level of service within, to and from the District in a sustainable and timely manner.
Further, all transportation projects constructed, either by the District or the Ministry, have specific Traffic Management plans, that are prepared and reviewed by a professional Transportation Engineer before implementation. Please note that the main focus of Traffic Management Plans for major transportation construction is to ensure safety, and not to eliminate or improve traffic congestion. While traffic management plans ensure safety and aim to maintain existing levels of service for traffic congestion, it is realistic to expect additional delays from the implementation of major transportation projects.
It is realistic to anticipate further delays over the next 5 years while the District’s Transportation Master Plan projects are implemented along with further Ministry of Transportation improvement projects.
A commuter shared an anecdote with the District via Twitter that we would be remiss not to share. Their observation while riding the bus into Sooke: all but 12 travellers heading out of Sooke were single-occupancy vehicles. With this observation, the District is considering how we might be able to connect residents and support carpooling practices as another means to respond to the identified problem. While carpooling can cause some inconveniences, it may be worthwhile to explore further – and to your question, lessen the impact of the delays. Of course, doing so during a pandemic presents another layer of complexity.
Peak Traffic times are from 7-10am and from 2-6pm which is typical for transportation networks in any community. In the evening, this can extend to 7pm depending on the day. Typically, there is lower traffic volume outside of these times.
All transportation projects constructed, either by the District or the Ministry, have Traffic Management plans, specific to each project, that are prepared and reviewed by a professional Transportation Engineer before implementation.
Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, incidents and accidents on Highway 14 cause further delays. Our Fire Chief and the Sooke RCMP also review strategies surrounding motor vehicle incidents including how they are cleared and what detours are in place while the incident is cleared.
Ultimately, the completion of key transportation projects will reduce traffic congestion and delays, as well as idling times for vehicles. The projects also include active transportation networks that will assist with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, there are not many options to avoid idling in traffic delays caused by construction. While most new vehicles are equipped with technology that will turn off vehicles while stopped, most vehicles will still be subject to idling while queued in traffic delays. I could only suggest that vehicles could be turned off if queued in any lengthy delays; however, turning off and on a vehicle in minor delays may cause more harm than good.
In balancing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from construction projects and idling delays, the District makes every effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, the District has committed to acquiring over 30,000 cubic meters of road construction materials from the Ministry’s HWY 14 improvement project (at over $1,000,000 in future savings to the District). The materials will be repurposed to construct critical Transportation projects within the District over the next 5 years. Further, this material is being repurposed locally as opposed to being transported, hauled, and stored approximately 40km outside of Sooke. There is a calculated reduction of approximately 200 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from this action.
Further, the District’s Climate Action Committee is developing a 7% solution that identified tangible approaches to reducing emissions by 7% a year over the next several years to meet our reduction targets of 50% by 2030. Over the last year, the Committee has been refining their work in this area and the District was recently successful through a Career Launcher Program Grant to hire a 9-month Climate Action Coordinator. This position will support the implementation of the Committee’s work while organizationally, the District works to apply a Low Carbon Resilience (LCR) lens to decision-making and policy development.
Meeting these targets will only be possible by combining our efforts – Sooke residents, the District, and the provincial and federal governments. The District, with the Climate Action Committee and the new Climate Action Coordinator, will be working towards an April 2022 (Earth Day) launch of the campaign, which will include support for mode-shifting, carpooling connections, etc. Please stay tuned for more on this. It is sure to be an exciting opportunity for collaboration with residents and for us to make work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We are taking a holistic approach, for example:
Engineering Operations & Capital Transportation initiatives:
Following Council’s adoption of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) in October 2020, Staff immediately engaged designs for both the Church Road Corridor and Otter Point Corridor projects, anticipating the construction of the Church Road Corridor in 2021, and having the Otter Point Corridor design ready to take advantage of potential grant opportunities. Fortunately, the District was successful in receiving a $1.8 million dollar grant in early 2021 to complete the Otter Point corridor project with stipulations that substantial completion of the project must be realized by the end of 2021. This was the reason for starting both the main corridors in unison in 2021.
Through 2021 budget deliberations, Council supported substantial allocations for District Staff to engage designs for most of the Transportation Master Plan corridor projects inclusive of Phillips, Throup, Church/Throup Roundabout, Charters, and the Phillips to Throup connection. These designs are anticipated to progress through 2022 facilitating complete shelf-ready designs for approximately $30 million dollars in corridor projects in alignment with the District’s TMP. Strategic components of the corridor projects or full corridor projects will be included in annual budget deliberations as well as 5-year financial plans for Council consideration.
Having designs completed will enable the District to apply for any potential grant opportunities that will facilitate advancing these critical projects in a timely manner while reducing project costs that would otherwise be required to be funded through local taxation as well as development cost fund reserves. Further details of the TMP projects can be found here. Additionally, Staff have completed conceptual designs for critical town center corridors and are currently designing further active Transportation components to facilitate pedestrian sidewalks and bike routes from Otter Point to Whiffin Spit Road.
Community Economic Development Initiatives:
The District is developing a Community Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan that has a key goal of supporting current businesses to expand or attract new employers to Sooke. The long-term goal is to create more jobs in Sooke so that residents can both live and work in Sooke, and reduce the amount of time commuting by motor vehicle, thereby also reducing pollution. Another action being considered is to make a co-working office space available to workers who can work remotely, and wish to do this in their community, but in an office outside of their home. You may be interested in this option, and if you are, please let us know.
These community economic development actions have strong support from the community, and your questions are helpful as we develop our Strategy. We invite you to follow the work of the District and the Community Economic Development Committee by exploring the various communications channels the District has listed below.
Development and Community Planning Initiatives:
The Official Community Plan (OCP) review currently underway has provided an opportunity for the community to share their vision for Sooke over the next 10 years. Part of this vision includes growth projections and associated policies to strategically manage growth over this period of time. The identification of employment lands in addition to continued support for the Town Centre will emphasize the importance of creating opportunities for local businesses to stay and grow within Sooke. These initiatives will help support the people of Sooke, limit the amount of vehicles on the road leaving Sooke which in turn will minimize traffic congestion. As a District that has been fortunate to complete both the Parks and Trails Master Plan and Transportation Master Plan prior to the review of the OCP, the OCP is informed with supported achievable actions such as more active transportation networks, promotion of electric vehicles and charging stations, and advocacy for improvements to highways and transit systems. There will be growing pains as we initiate these projects; however, they are intended as long-term solutions to the issues residents have raised to make Sooke a better place to live.
Partnership with School District 62:
The current location of Saseenos and Sooke Elementary, in particular, add to the traffic congestion. A school site in Sunriver has been identified and SD 62’s capital planning is looking at when a school will be constructed on that site. More immediately, we partnered with the CRD’s Active School Travel Planning Program to identify plans for Journey, Poirier and Sooke Elementary. You’ll notice a common project in each of these plans and also identified in the District’s Parks and Trails Master Plan is Little River Crossing, which would provide pedestrian access from Sunriver to the town core (including Poirier and Journey).
Funding for this project is approximately $2 million and would transform the commute for school drop-off/pick up from a 4-kilometre drive with access from Highway 14 to an approximately 600-metre pedestrian connection. To your earlier point on actions to reduce environmental impacts from traffic congestion – this would certainly make a favourable impact. Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in securing grants for this project and have added it to 2023-2024 of our 5-year financial plan with funding through DCC’s (the new DCC Bylaw which includes this project will be coming forward for adoption in early 2022).
A local-area Transit Plan for Sooke Is a guiding document for making future decisions regarding transit connecting to, from and within the Sooke area. Please see the plan in its current form, here.
Additionally, BC Transit is currently engaging in rapid transit planning for the West Shore including Sooke. Learn more and participate here: https://engage.bctransit.com/westshore2021
Paving priorities for roadways are set based on conditional assessments that involve the following considerations in their evaluation:
- Level of Service required based on density/population served
- Frequency of use (anticipated vehicles/day)
- Physical condition of pavement and projected life expectancy
- Safety as well as consequence of failure
- Typical design life
- Road Classification
District staff are working with the Ministry of Transportation to improve this stretch of Highway 14. As updates are available, this page will be kept current. The noted gate is on private property and has been installed by the property owner.
Annual Assessments and thorough inspections are completed on all Bridges within the District of Sooke on an annual basis. The 2021 inspection that was conducted earlier this year indicated no immediate concerns about the structural integrity of the Phillips Road Bridge. Further, the 2021 maintenance inspection concluded most items inspected were in fair to excellent condition regarding Hydrotechnical, substructure, superstructure, Deck, and approach components for Phillips Bridge. The current vehicle and large truck traffic loading that is experienced on the Bridge daily is in alignment with the required design live load of CL-625 which allows for a live load capacity of up to 64 metric tonnes.
The 2021 Maintenance activities conducted on Phillips Road Bridge included repairs to utilities that are supported below the bridge, Hydro Pole assessments, as well as major improvements to all four of the approaches.
In light of the recent storm events, the District has engaged drone fly-over analysis of Demamiel Creek as well as the Phillips Bridge area, and we have issued an immediate assessment that will be conducted within the next 2 weeks for Phillips Road Bridge as well as other bridges within the District. If there are any immediate concerns with the structural integrity of the substructure or superstructure of the bridge, they will be addressed immediately as required.
In the event that a failure was to occur, it is highly probable that the northbound bridge would be impacted prior to the southbound bridge on Phillips being impacted as this bridge elevation is lower and downstream of the southbound bridge, thus still allowing for emergency alternating access in and out of the Sunriver area while immediate repairs and access were being addressed and constructed.
While an alternate traffic route in and out of the Sunriver area is identified as a long-term connection in District Plans they are not being considered within the current 5-year financial plan. District Planning and Operations departments will ensure that alternate access routes are considered prior to the District considering further rezoning and subdivision of land that has not already been previously approved for development within Sunriver. We are currently assessing the feasibility of alternative routes accordingly so we can proactively plan for potential implementation in the future.
Additionally, the District is continuing work on a pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately, we were not successful with recent grant applications for this project and are not determining when resources can be appropriately allocated with the District’s financial plan to complete this work.
Related, the Engineering department Operations Staff are currently working through a major corridor upgrade design with consultants for the Phillips Corridor. We anticipate bringing forward further budgets for consideration in 2023 to include a detailed analysis of Phillips bridge which will present options to consider for either long-term upgrades or potential replacements.
To stay informed on the implementation of the Transportation Master Plan, please visit letstalk.sooke.ca/tmp. For the latest on the District budget (and the resulting allocation of resources/prioritization of projects), please visit letstalk.sooke.ca/budget.
If the deer is on Sooke Road or West Coast Road (HWY 14), please contact EMCON at 1.866.353.3136. If the deer is elsewhere in the District fo Sooke, during regular hours of operation Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., please contact the District at 250.642.1634 or firstname.lastname@example.org. After hours, please call Victoria COntracting at 250.474.2688.
- Transportation Master Plan Implementation Information Page
- Long-term transportation infrastructure planning map: