Thursday, November 23, 2023 – I am pleased to begin this month’s message by sharing news on the District’s most recent successful FireSmart program grant application! The District is receiving nearly $200,000 through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) FireSmart Community
Funding and Support Program to help enhance our community’s wildfire resiliency.
With this funding, we will continue FireSmart education and community-based programs like the free FireSmart home assessments, while also initiating two new programs. Details are being finalized on FireSmart Rebates and new opportunities for yard waste disposal events for residents. More information on these initiatives will be available early in the new year, please stay tuned.
Also in celebration, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the WorkBC team on the opening of their Sooke location at 2096 Church Road!
The Centre and Work BC staff provide a variety of services including skills assessments and workshops, job search training, and one-on-one job search and resume assistance. Additionally, the facility offers meeting spaces for community groups, local community navigation services, and so much more. Visit their website or give them a call at 250.642.3685 to explore their services further.
While there are things to celebrate, I recognize the traffic disruptions commuters are experiencing are frustrating. Through the implementation of our Transportation Master Plan, we’re working to improve the flow of traffic on local roads and off Highway 14. However, this takes resources – namely time and money.
The current works with the Church/Throup Roundabout is a critical phase of the future Phillips Road connector which will assist with traffic congestion. Additionally, we are awaiting news on a federal grant application for a pedestrian bridge across Little River which will also assist with the movement of people around town.
I understand the impact this is having on many of our residents. I am connecting with other levels of government and agencies to work towards solutions. The District is also looking to understand more about the new provincial zoning rules to increase density. Right now, there seem to be more questions than answers; however, I will keep you informed as additional information is available.
From the Community to Council Chambers, some of the recent decisions made at public meetings include support for the formation of a Standing Committee on Community Health Centre and a Sooke Homelessness Coalition Community Action Team.
A Standing Committee on Community Health Centre is forming to assist the District in facilitating the development of Community Health Care infrastructure and facilities. The Standing Committee will be comprised of three members of Council and three members of the Sooke Region Communities Health Network, alongside myself to serve as ex-officio member.
The Sooke Homelessness Coalition Community Action Team is looking to bring together numerous stakeholders including two community representatives and a neighbourhood business owner, along with Sooke Bylaw, Sooke RCMP, a District of Sooke Council member, representatives from local First Nations, and a representative from each of BC Housing, Sooke Chamber of Commerce, Sooke Food Bank and Sooke Region Communities Health Network as well as someone with lived experience. The objectives of this advisory team are to build and maintain positive participant relationships, facilitate information sharing and dialogue, and to identify and advise participants regarding issues, opportunities and concerns.
At the November 14th public meeting, Council received the Capital West Accessibility Advisory Committee’s terms of reference. The District is participating in this joint committee with neighbouring communities. In accordance with the Accessible BC Act, this Committee will identify and work to remove barriers to enhance municipal accessibility. While this group is just forming, there will be public consultation; I will let you know when this participation opportunity is available.
At the November 20th public meeting, Council received the Budget 2024 What We Heard Report. Once again, I extend my appreciation to all residents who participated in our budget engagement throughout the summer! Your voices are the foundation of our budget. Your Council is listening, and we will endeavour to be as responsive as possible to your needs while maintaining fiscal responsibility and managing the difficult cost pressures so many are facing.
At this time, staff are preparing a preliminary budget which will be presented to Council through a service-level review at an upcoming Council meeting. During the service level review, Council will provide direction on funding of municipal services, informed by resident priorities as expressed during public engagement and by approved master plans such as the Transportation Master Plan, the Parks and Trails Master Plan, the Fire Rescue Services Master Plan, and the Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan. To learn more about the District’s budget and stay up to date on current activities, please visit letstalk.sooke.ca/budget.
As we look ahead to a new year, I invite you to enjoy the many upcoming holiday festivities in Sooke! The Sooke Lions are hosting a free community breakfast with Santa at the Sooke Legion on December 2nd. Take in the Winter Market at the Sooke Region Museum – also on December 2nd. Get set for the Sooke Firefighters’ Santa Run on December 9th as firetrucks decorated in holiday lights make their way through town. And, come together on December 10th for a community celebration with the Sooke Santa Parade! For more on these and other community events, please visit sooke.ca/events.
As with each monthly update, a lot is happening with your local government and I invite you to stay connected.
Mayor Maja Tait