June Mayoral Message: Addressing Traffic Challenges and Enhancing Community Infrastructure in Sooke

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 – The recent closure of Charters Road and the resulting increased congestion on Highway 14 have undoubtedly posed significant challenges for our community. I want to assure you that the District of Sooke is well aware of the disruptions caused by these traffic conditions and is committed to working with numerous stakeholders to help us realize solutions.

Charters Road requires extensive rebuilding due to its poor condition, affected significantly by the atmospheric river event in 2021. This reconstruction process will span several months, during which a portion of the road will be completely removed to facilitate culvert replacement and overall road reconstruction. This is a necessary step towards ensuring safer and more efficient traffic flow in the long term.

I understand that the increased congestion underscores the importance of this route for our community. Reopening the road to two lanes is a top priority. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the process to rebuild the road will take time. Should any opportunity arise to partially open the road, such as implementing one-way travel after the work surrounding the fisheries window, we will seize it.

The timing of the current works is largely dictated by the fisheries window, a period mandated by scientific research and provincial regulations to protect fish populations and their habitats. While this may seem frustrating, please understand that construction can only occur during this established period to avoid further delays and adverse impacts on our community.

Addressing traffic congestion requires a multifaceted approach, and we are actively pursuing various measures while advocating on your behalf to other agencies.

Within our jurisdiction, we are working hard to implement the Transportation Master Plan, aimed at enhancing our local road network and transportation system.

The Throup Connector is a key project in this plan. Currently, in the design phase, it is identified in our five-year financial plan for completion in 2027, pending funding.

The topographical challenges of the site mean the Throup Connector is a costly project. It requires a combination of funding sources such as grants, road development cost charges, potential borrowing and taxation to fund. We are committed to exploring all avenues to secure sufficient funds for this vital infrastructure development as soon as possible. As we launch the 2025 budget survey in the coming weeks, the District will seek feedback on such transportation infrastructure. Please participate in this survey!

Additionally, we are making progress on projects like the Little River Pedestrian Crossing to improve safety and accessibility for pedestrian traffic, reducing reliance on Highway 14. We are also working to support local businesses and expand job availability closer to home.

Looking to the Province, collaboration between ministries is essential to address persistent traffic congestion. We are actively requesting meetings with relevant ministers to discuss transportation issues, school safety, and infrastructure funding.

Four schools are located along Highway 14, which is another source of the congestion. The School District has designated land for the development of a new school at 2438 Phillips Road and we are aware that School District 62 has submitted a proposal under seismic work to the Ministry of Education and Child Care to request the relocation and expansion of Sooke Elementary on its existing site. Support from the Ministry of Education and Child Care in this capacity would allow alternative access to the site from Highway 14 further assisting with related traffic management.

Our efforts that support alleviating traffic congestion also extend to ensuring essential services, like medical care, are available closer to home. Last month, BC Builds announced that Sooke is among one of eight new partners set to leverage the program which teams the province with non-profits, local governments, public agencies, First Nations, and community groups to provide funding and financing to support housing construction, and in Sooke’s case also the integrated community health centre.

Once a developer and housing operator are identified, the BC Builds model will turn the identified sites from concept to construction in 12-18 months, rather than the typical three to five years.

Specific to this project, in March 2023, the province announced “People living in Sooke and the surrounding area will benefit from a new integrated health-care centre offering team-based services in the heart of Sooke village.”  The new centre will be part of the Western Communities Primary Care Network and provide extended hours for urgent and non-emergency health care and better same-day access to primary care to help meet community demand.

Lastly, and certainly far from least, transit. Members of Sooke Council and staff attended the BC Transit Town Hall yesterday to hear from residents and connect with other stakeholders. At the event, an interesting stat was shared regarding neighbouring Highway 1 traffic and transit use: transit takes up 3% of road space while moving 40% of people. What is needed to support a greater use of transit?  I look forward to translating this conversation into meaningful action through the Transit Commission and working towards removing barriers to ridership such as scheduling, reliability and capacity concerns.

Ultimately, I want to assure you that your concerns are heard, and we are committed to working diligently towards solutions. To all who have written; thank you. Hearing your stories helps in our advocacy and further highlights the pressing need for a coordinated and effective response. The District of Sooke is ready and willing to collaborate closely with provincial ministries and BC Transit to achieve our shared objectives and improve the quality of life for our residents.

Together, with your support and engagement, we can overcome these challenges and create a better future for Sooke.


Mayor Maja Tait