Wednesday, November 3, 2020 – Reflecting on the lands of the T’Sou-ke Nation – what an exciting month! Over the last 30 days, the Parks and Trails, and Transportation Master Plans were approved by council; the District officially opened the Stickleback Urban Trail; the District was pleased to support the Sooke Harmony Project in hosting a Hallowe’en Drive-in Concert and Movie; the Official Community Plan (OCP) Review received a remarkable response from the community and; a public engagement period to inform the development of a tree management bylaw was launched. These highlights just a few the achievements council and staff have worked towards during the October-November 2020 span.
The Parks and Trails and Transportation Master Plans will support our path forward guiding the District’s planning, design, and development of transportation facilities and infrastructure. Key directions we heard from community conversations included the local economy, growth, connectivity and alternative transportation. I will continue to update you on the progress we are making in these areas in the months ahead. I also invite you to listen to the conversations at council as meetings are streamed through the District’s YouTube channel as the work to deliver on these priorities takes shape.
Through the Parks and Trails Master Planning, the community expressed key challenges including connectivity of the trails, lack of information on parks and trails on signs, map kiosks, social media, and print materials. Together, with the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, the District has responded with the launch of the Stickleback Urban Trail – a 6.5kilometre route that connects the Galloping Goose at Kirby to Clarkson Park on Broomhill. You will now find wayfinding signage on this route, including maps and a kiosk at John Phillips Memorial Park.
At the October 13th council meeting, we received a proposal from the Sooke Harmony Project to host a drive-in movie. This provided a safe means for the community to come together. Fifty vehicles were welcomed to the parking lot at SEAPARC by the Sooke Youth Harmony Project Drumline on October 31st – enjoying The Nightmare Before Christmas. As the pandemic continues, and the province reported new records of daily cases in recent weeks, we must continue to find innovative ways to stay connected while remaining physically distant. Thank you to the volunteers from Sooke Harmony Project who made this wonderful event possible.
As we continue to connect and collaborate with the community, Picture Sooke – the OCP Review is well underway. We have heard from 300 residents through online surveys, print surveys and sounding boards displayed throughout the community. This visioning phase of the survey concludes Friday – please anticipate a “What we heard” report to be available later this month. The next phase of Picture Sooke will look at growth scenarios and will be available for public input early in the new year. This plan is reflective of all voices, values and priorities of the community; I encourage you to continue to engage in this public participation process to inform the District’s path forward with the OCP. All municipal policies, plans, and regulations must be in alignment with the OCP Bylaw, so it is a powerful guide for District decision-making. Your involvement helps shape our future growth in a way that is sustainable and provides a high quality of life for current and future residents.
Council has made a commitment to improving communication and engagement with the public and community partners. We are following through on that commitment with the launch of sooke.ca/engage – an online portal where you will find numerous engagement opportunities, like the community survey to inform a tree management bylaw. This round of public input will help develop the preliminary tree management bylaw, to be presented to council on December 14, 2020.
Lastly, but certainly not least, as we approach November 11th – a time to honour and show our respect for those to sacrificed so much for our freedom – I would like to acknowledge with utmost gratitude our veterans. To the families in Sooke who have served, who continue to serve – thank you. Thank you for honouring us each and every day in the work that you do. On November 11th, while the absence of the traditional ceremonies may be felt, I hope the community will join me in pausing at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month for a moment of silence to honour you. I hope that you feel the presence of this reflection and the respect that I know the entire community shares.
Mayor Tait will continue to provide monthly statements highlighting current District of Sooke activities. An abbreviated version of this month’s mayoral message appeared in the Sooke News Mirror on November 2, 2020.