Tuesday, January 30, 2024 – With approximately 70 people attending today’s coffee with Mayor and Council, attendees receive key updates and Council members addressed pressing issues including major capital works, transportation and respond to local housing needs. The gathering aimed to foster community connection and share important information which is summarized below and captured in the mayoral remarks.
1. Administrative Updates:
Council highlighted ongoing recruitment efforts, including the search for a new Chief Administrative Officer. Raechel Gray, Director of Financial Services, is temporarily fulfilling this role. Additionally, several key positions have been filled or are in the recruitment process.
Recently filled positions include Building Inspectors and Human Resource Manager. We are recruiting for an Engineering Technician, Fire Prevention/Life Safety Educator, a Director of Planning and Development, and will very shortly be recruiting for an auxiliary Bylaw Officer.
2. Building Service Division:
Building services play an integral role in managing the BC Building Code, which is a provincial regulation governing new construction, building alterations, repairs and demolitions.
The Code establishes minimum requirements for safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection, as well as energy and water efficiency in buildings.
As of two weeks ago, we are caught up on all outstanding building permit applications awaiting inspection!
3. Major Capital Works:
Updates on major capital projects, such as the Church/Throup Roundabout, Charters Road restructuring, Ravens Ridge Park expansion, and Little River Crossing, were discussed.
For each project, the District is leveraging third party funds as much as possible to minimize the impact on the residential tax base.
4. Commute Challenges and Solutions:
Council acknowledged transportation challenges, outlining short, medium, and long-term solutions, including discussions with the ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), carpooling considerations, BC Transit advocacy, and local economic development.
Council has requested representatives from MOTI attend as a delegation at an upcoming public meeting. The date for this meeting is not yet known. Please sign up to receive meeting notifications to be among the first informed of this meeting.
5. Housing Challenges and Legislative Changes:
Council discussed legislative changes impacting housing, including Sooke’s designation as a “specified municipality” under the Housing Supply Act. The need for Housing Needs Reports, Official Community Plan revisions, and updates to the Zoning Bylaw were also highlighted.
6. Homelessness and Park Safety:
In addressing challenges with homelessness, Council spoke to recent clean-up efforts and plans for an integrated health centre.
7. Wounded Warriors Run:
Attendees were reminded of the Wounded Warriors Run one day event on February 4, 2024 that travels from Sooke to Sidney and will cause delays on Highway 14 from approximately 10am to noon.
8. Budget Process:
Upcoming budget meetings will take place in February. Council acknowledged that it will be a tough budget year.
Attendees were reminded that public input lays the foundation for budget development and that priorities expressed by the community include first responder services, roads and traffic management, parks, and the environment.
More than 1,000 residents participated in this year’s early budget process. Results are captured in the 2024 What We Heard Report.
The Deputy Mayor and Council thanked the community for their engagement and emphasized the collective dedication to addressing challenges head-on. A Q&A session followed, alongside further one-on-one and small group discussions.
Mayor Tait sent her regrets as she was tending to an urgent family matter. The District operates with a Deputy Mayoral schedule in the event of such emergencies.