What a year!

December 31, 2020 – As we reflect on highlights from the last 12-months, we are humbled; many are savvier with technology (yes, with a little frustration along the way) and; ultimately, we are grateful. Grateful for how the community followed the Provincial Health Orders and kept Sooke safe. Grateful for all that is being accomplished. Grateful to look ahead to a promising year!

Below captures a few of the stories that the District shared in 2020, and as we look ahead to 2021 from the District of Sooke staff and Council, wishing you good health as the calendar turns to 2021.

January 2020

  • Winter road conditions were in effect as snow fell, leaving a soft while notable blanket on the community, read more. Community clearing efforts included a kind resident using a snowblower, dressed in a pink inflatable unicorn (pictured)!
  • Boardwalk at Ed Macgregor Park was closed briefly as high winds brought down several large trees on January 16th, 2020. The boardwalk was reopened on January 21st, 2020.

Photo credit: Chloe N./Meanwhile in Sooke Facebook page

February 2020

March 2020

  • A Provincial Statement of Emergency was declared as the COVID-19 pandemic reached British Columbia. Mayor Tait would provide updates from a vacant Council Chambers (pictured) as physical distancing measures and restrictions on gatherings were put in place. The measures and restrictions remain in place as the year comes to a close, while hope is on the horizon with vaccines arriving this week. For current updates on COVID-19, see our COVID-19 information page.

April 2020

  • District of Sooke Council meetings moved to an electronic meeting platform to support physical distancing measures. Meetings remain in this form as of December 2020 due to Provincial Health Orders in place.
  • The Sooke Chamber of Commerce launched its pay-it-forward “Better Buy Sooke” campaign. Looking for holiday gifts, take advantage of this opportunity to support local through BetterBuySooke.ca. Big thank you to Web Max for their integral role in this initiative – and congratulations to them as the 2020 President’s Choice Award Winner at the recent Chamber of Commerce Virtual Awards Ceremony.
  • Premier John Horgan and Anne Giardini, OC, OBC, QC, Chair of the BC Achievement Foundation, named this year’s recipients of the BC Achievement Community Award, a list including former District of Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen.

The Sooke Fire Station No. 2 was renamed Sorensen Station in March 2017. Former Sooke fire chief Steve Sorensen stands next to the sign that was made in his honour. 

Photo credit: Sooke News Mirror

May 2020

  • The District prepares to re-open municipal hall, installing barriers, signage and having WorkSafe BC safety plans approved.
  • Grow your own food: “Growing Together – Safely Apart” was launched to help residents grow their own food in converted lawns, raised beds, pots, patios or windowsills. The program hub is growingfood-together.com, which serves as ‘Grand Central Station” to access educational videos and resources, mentorship, links to sourcing seeds, plants and everything you might need to garden and grow food. There are also special supports in place for folks who might need an extra hand through community projects that provide everything from plant starts to whole garden kits. This site also provides links to volunteer, mentor, or donate to support the program. Reflecting on this initiative is timely with the Sooke Region Communities Health Network survey on food security (which closes December 31).

June 2020

July 2020

  • The District consulted with the community to update the Parks and Trails Master Plan and the Transportation Master Plan, two plans which were later approved by Council (in October).
  • The District celebrated the opening of phase one 1 of Demamial Creek (Little River) Pedestrian Crossing.

August 2020

  • The District launched a pilot program for food trucks in municipal parks, allowing food trucks to sell food in select parks – supporting the local business community and residents in the process.
  • The District announced its OCP Review Advisory Committee members, individuals who represent Sooke as residents, neighbours, and talented professionals bringing their remarkable experience to enhance this important planning process. Meet your neighbours, and learn more about Picture Sooke and the OCP Review. Picture Sooke continues through 2021.
  • A $7.4 million centre for T’Sou-ke Nation was announced, with construction expected to start in the spring of 2022. Learn more in this article from the Times Colonist.

OCP Advisory Committee Member, Terry shares why the OCP matters to him: “Planning your future is far more productive than having it arrive on its own terms.” Subscribe to our electronic newsletter for the latest updates on this important process.

September 2020

  • The Sooke Region Communities Health Network (SRCHN) development and operation of an Elders Complex with youth programming on the Northeast quadrant of Lot A were approved. The complex will include up to 76 affordable housing rental units for individuals 55 plus and an elder’s centre on the ground floor for socializing, recreation, and enrichment, read more.
  • Together, the Vancouver Island Regional Library and the District of Sooke announced the start of construction on a state-of-the-art new library, read more.
  • Mayor Tait concluded her term as UBCM President. She reflected, “I am grateful to have served as the UBCM President for this past year. I hope that I represented my community proudly. It has been a year like no other… it has been a privilege to work with communities around the province in this capacity.”

Photo credit: Scott McAlpine

October 2020

  • Community members were invited to have their say to shape Sooke’s future; they were invited to “Picture Sooke with us” as the first round of the community engagement on the review of the Official Community Plan took place. The community is invited to continue the conversation: subscribe to the electronic newsletter. Learn more about the OCP and why you should be involved at sooke.ca/ocp.
  • The community celebrated the opening of the Stickleback Urban Trail (view map). A string quartet from Sooke Harmony Project greeted visitors with remarks shared by Mayor Maja Tait and Sid Jorna, President of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society. The 6.5 kilometres trail connects the Galloping Goose Trail at Kirby to Clarkson Park on Broomhill.

Sooke Harmony Project string quartet plays at the opening of the Stickleback Urban Trail at John Phillips Memorial Park

November 2020

  • Mayor Maja Tait received the first poppy to launch the annual poppy campaign
  • The District received $2.9 million through COVID Restart Program. Council will consider the adoption of the 2021 budget at the January 11, 2021 Council Meeting, which includes the use of the COVID Restart Funds in 2021 to support the Chamber of Commerce Service Agreement, Community Economic Development staff and operating budget, parks labourers, computer hardware, software and website enhancements, and a top-up of the Casino Revenue to address the revenue shortfall due to the closing of the Casino in response to the pandemic.
  • The District began community engagement on a potential tree management bylaw. To stay informed on this topic, please subscribe to the ‘Tree Management’ electronic newsletter.

Photo credit: Sooke Legion

December 2020

  • Highway 14 construction continued as Windley Contracting Ltd. advised the commencement of the Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road portion of the project.
  • More diverse housing options are coming to Sooke with the approval of a 75 multi family unit affordable housing development at 2170 Charters Road and a 170 unit affordable housing development – both funded by BC Housing at the December 14, 2020 Council Meeting.
  • The District celebrated progress being made on Sun Run Trail, which aims to connect Sunriver to town core. A new 275-metre trail connection from Willowpark Way to the Sunriver Nature Trail marked the next step in the District of Sooke enhancing the walkability of the community.
  • The District recognized seven employees for service awards. CAO Norm McInnis shared, “I am proud of our dedicated staff who are making significant contributions to our growing community. Their commitment to the organization and wealth of knowledge is an asset to the District. I am grateful to have the opportunity to recognize these milestones in their service.” Mayor Maja Tait reflected, “Sooke is a relatively young community with its incorporation on December 7, 1999 so having members of our team who have chosen to spend their careers with us is a real compliment to the community. On behalf of the District of Sooke Council, it is my honour to recognize Susan, Matt, Deborah, Chris, Cam, Brad and Brian for their service to the District. Your hard work and efforts year after year are making a difference in our community.”
  • The Sooke Chamber of Commerce, support by the District, honoured local businesses at their 2020 Virtual Business Excellence Ceremony. Congratulations to all the nominees, the runners up, and the winners of the Sooke Chamber’s annual Business Excellence Awards!
  • Sooke’s generosity shined bright as the Sooke Santa Run continued during the pandemic and $36,735.87 was raised through Sooke Firefighter’s Association and IAFF Local 4841 Fill-a-truck Campaign in support of the Sooke Food Bank.

Look through the years by viewing the District’s Annual Reports.