Sooke Municipal Candidates Forum - Invitation to the Public Ad

ALL CANDIDATES Q&A

The following 5 questions were developed by the Chamber's Board of Directors, derived from the most commonly heard questions posed to the Chamber from the business community and the general public throughout 2014, with answers provided by Sooke’s municipal candidates have been made available to the public as a source of information to the community.

QUESTION 1: Sooke is one of the few geographic areas in Greater Victoria that has room to grow.  Do you believe growth should be capped, and if not, then what would you do to plan for smart growth?

Mayoral Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Herb Haldane:  no answer provided

Maja Tait:  no answer provided

Councillor Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Jeff Bateman:

No, I don’t believe growth should or can be capped, however Langford affordability and highway issues will ensure growth remains somewhat manageable. Key point is that future development needs to be steered towards our town centre as envisioned in the Official Community Plan. Sooke’s former town planner Gerard LeBlanc noted at a council meeting early this year that more than 3,000 approved building lots await development, and approx. 100 new homes are built annually here. Much of the activity is in satellite developments (Stone Ridge, Sunriver), not in the core. The OCP favors Smart Growth BC principles and points to downtown residential/commercial growth. Clearly given the lack of development in the core, we’re off track on that vision, all the more so when a car wash was allowed within the CTC-2 zone south of Sooke Rd. (along with permission for other auto-related uses).

The 2015 Corporate Strategic Plan tackles downtown traffic flow and makes a start on town centre sidewalks. A multi-use trail alongside the highway from Ed Macgregor Park to the bus stop near Whiffen Spit Rd. would be logical, and we need safer raised sidewalks from Church to Phillips. A solution, of course, must be found to boats and trailers along the West Coast Road near the Prestige. The Town Centre Design Handbook will ensure aesthetic appeal and consistency. Single storey buildings (such as the new Royal Bank) in prime, southside core lots are a missed opportunity since we need the extra vertical commercial and residential space. Future one-storey permits might specify that they include load-bearing walls capable of accepting future vertical add-ons.

I’m by no means educated in these matters, however it seems larger communities have an economic development officer to work with existing businesses and also woo targeted businesses, developers and – perhaps most important – potential new residents. Our affordability, small-town character and active lifestyle advantages could certainly be marketed to young families (we have a full spectrum k-12 school system) and active zoomers alike. The City of Parksville, for example, actively chases the Canadian relocation market. 

Bev Berger:  no answer provided

Justin Hanson:

I do not believe that Sooke's growth should be capped or constrained to its present boundaries.  The current boundaries of Sooke are artificial in that they are lines on a map that do not reflect geographical boundaries or natural divides between communities.  I look to our West and see Otter Point, a region that most people in the CRD would assume is already part of Sooke.  To our South I see East Sooke which shares our beautiful harbour and basin and the addition of which would provide our municipality some continuity between North Sooke and Sooke Point.  I believe municipal growth should be allowed to occur and indeed should be supported and encouraged in those regions if the people of those regions want and support it and if the costs associated with such growth is outweighed by its benefits.  Growth should not be promoted on a property by property basis as has been done in the past but should be done on a region by region basis.  Smart growth requires planning ahead and working with the regions on our borders to integrate our community plans, harmonize our corporate cultures, and stop competing against one another for limited residential and commercial developments.  We are better together.

Rick Kasper:

Sooke has had smart growth policies for several years. The sewerage area provides urban containment boundaries that allow for creation of residential and commercial spaces. Limiting higher density development to the urban core protects valuable farmland, parks, waters and green space for a sustainable, mixed-use community where residents and visitors can live, work and play. District staff and past Councils have developed plans for sustainable growth and to create roads, infrastructure, parks and trails and I would like to see Council continue this steady progress without huge tax increases. We can do more to engage the public and get taxpayers’ input on the best ways to move forward.

Ebony Logins:

Growth can be managed and sustainable. Smart growth for Sooke means that existing spaces become places that the community values. Roads need to be safer, since they are our lifeline to access jobs, healthcare, and education. Safe walking and cycling will make Sooke more accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and income levels, and provides opportunities for healthy and active lifestyles. Economic development should take advantage of Sooke’s best assets and complement our region. A sustainable community is more independent, with options for housing, employment, shopping, education, and energy. It protects and enhances our natural resources.

Brenda Parkinson:

  • I believe that the public was engaged in the process of creating Sooke’s Official Community Plan.  The OCP is the voice of the people. 
  • Smart growth is a way to build and maintain our town. 
  • Create a downtown that is appealing and easy to move around.
  • We need to enhance the quality of life for our citizens.
  • Offering services that meets the needs of the entire community.

Kevin Pearson:

I do not believe in capping growth, this has never truly worked any where I am aware of. Market and economics will dictate growth. Smart growth will be achieved by utilizing the Services available (the infrastructure) Sewer and Water, densifying the downtown core and all areas in Sooke identified by our SSA (Sewer Specified Area) by a clear OCP and appropriate Zoning. I believe that if we can identify areas where we want density we can even pre zone and let the developers know in advance what they can reasonably expect to do. Amenities can be part of the DP process and discussion on a theme character must be part of developing strong bylaws to support a vision of the downtown core. 

Kel Phair:

I don’t believe growth should be capped but rather monitored closely to avoid mistakes.  These mistakes can be costly, haphazard, cramped and/or jumbled.  I believe that we (Mayor and Council) must make certain, that all building in the District, conform to all Provincial Building Codes, Sooke’s District principles and the Official Community Plan.

Kerrie Reay: 

I do not believe that growth should be capped.  We have an Official Community Plan to guide the future development in Sooke.  The priority needs to be focused on development occurring in the core of Sooke, improved roads, sidewalks and trails to ensure safe movement in and around Sooke.  I also believe that a dialogue has to be re-opened with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on the improvements to Highway 14 or a new highway to Sooke (there are plans from the 70’s). 

Mark Whiteson:  no answer provided


QUESTION 2:  What actions will you take to provide greater support to local businesses in Sooke?

Mayoral Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Herb Haldane:  no answer provided

Maja Tait:  no answer provided

Councillor Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Jeff Bateman:

The Chamber of Commerce and businesses unaffiliated with the Chamber must continue to identify and voice their needs to council.  The Chamber’s regular reports is an excellent example of what’s needed. In addition to Mr. Nyikes, I’m sure council would like to hear from other chamber members speaking personally about the challenges and opportunities they face. Anecdotal education of this kind, site visits, mixers and the like would keep council and staff focused on local business issues.

What I hear from business owners is that three issues are paramount: i) lack of available commercial space; ii) taxes & commercial rent; iii) parking issues.

A wave of Green Built developers might increase available square footage. I don’t know enough about business taxes and commercial rent downtown to comment on the second point, apart from saying that the Sooke River Grill closed in September because of rent increases and that one tenant in the Evergreen Mall apparently pays $5k per month for two relatively small side-by-side spaces.  

As for parking, the District has apparently approved three-hour parking limit signs for the town centre, yet business owners in the area don’t know when they’ll be installed. This means commuters who should be using the Park’n’Ride lots near EMCS continue to hog limited street parking options on Eustace and elsewhere. One suggestion I’ve heard is that the Tin Grotto be torn down and paved as a parking lot, thereby saving the costs of remediating the likely toxic soil on the property.

Bev Berger:  no answer provided

Justin Hanson:

I feel strongly that local businesses must be supported, that said the Municipality operates within certain legislative and fiscal constraints that limits its available options.  The general tools at its disposal are infrastructure creation, planning, zoning, grants, tax incentives, rebates and a reduction of red tape and the streamlining of procedures within the municipal offices.   Existing business could be supported through the creation of a welcoming and walkable down town core.  Many of our small businesses are situated in buildings that are at some remove from the core, are not connected to it by an integrated sidewalk system or are hidden away on side roads.  Downtown improvement is key to encouraging businesses to come to Sooke and to keep the ones we already have.  The municipality could install sidewalks and lights connecting the various commercial centres to one another, and create signposts on municipal right of ways to direct people to the businesses.  When the municipality is engaged in the creation of public works it could be required to source the equipment, labour and supplies locally.  The municipality could work with the Chamber of Commerce to produce a guide to investors and businesses in Sooke.  The guide could for instance set out the locations and zoning of available land, a list of commercial and industrial properties available for lease, and to promote Sooke as a great place to live and make a living. The municipality could attract new businesses to Sooke by shifting a small portion of the tax burden from the commercial properties to the residential properties and by providing incentives to businesses who start up in or move to Sooke.  I would be open to exploring any and all these means and more to support local businesses.

Rick Kasper:

The role of local government is to create and support the infrastructure to enable residents and businesses to thrive. As Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee for the past three years I worked with the District finance staff to oversee the budget and there are funds available to build more sidewalks in the downtown core to make it more attractive and walkable. I will continue to push to keep taxes down while making steady progress on infrastructure, doing what we can afford. Supporting a good quality of life for residents and a desirable location for visitors will enable them to support the local economy. 

Ebony Logins:

We will work with local business to define solutions and take action on plans made by previous Councils. Some actions have been defined, such as making Sooke’s core accessible and providing parking solutions for commuters. Promoting sustainable growth in tourism is important. We can also set up young entrepreneurs for success with resources and opportunities for mentorships.

Brenda Parkinson:

Work on improving the road network, parking, trails and sidewalk accessibility by working with all levels of Government.

Kevin Pearson:

First I will continue my practice of shopping in Sooke for as much as possible, as a councillor I will continue to support all initiatives that promote Sooke and the Services available.

Kel Phair:

I have been self employed as a Mechanical Contractor in the building industry since 1978 up until my retirement in March 2013.  I sympathize and understand how local businesses struggle to survive, especially in a small community. I can be the voice for those local businesses because of this knowledge.  District needs to be open to new ideas but at the same time cautious so as not to create unwelcome precedence. 

Kerrie Reay: 

We need to cultivate an environment that encourages buying local and I will continue to advocate for shopping local.  I use social media to promote any local business that shares their status.  I believe for local business to thrive there needs to be growth in Sooke and development needs a Council that not only say they are open for business but has efficient and effective processes streamlined to demonstrate we are open for business.  I would also support continued engagement with the Sooke Chamber, as well as business who are not members, to strategize on how best to support our local economy.

Mark Whiteson:  no answer provided



QUESTION 3:  What strategies do you have to encourage more economic development in Sooke?

Mayoral Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Herb Haldane:  no answer provided

Maja Tait:  no answer provided

Councillor Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Jeff Bateman:

Listen and learn is my best answer as a potential new councillor. The Chamber of Commerce is where I’d turn for this expertise as well as to the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Economic Development. The Advisory Panel’s ED survey (according to council minutes from the Nov. 25/2013 meeting at which the findings were presented; I can’t find the complete report online) point out that businesses are frustrated with council inaction. Beautification, “more roadside attractions,” business license fees and the hotel tax are noted as priorities.

Bev Berger:  no answer provided

Justin Hanson:

Economic development is essential in order for Sooke to survive and thrive as a community.  The first key to that economic development is sound planning.  Sooke has an existing official community plan that shows a built out, but human scaled down town core centred around and oriented off of the harbour with parks and interconnecting roads.  It is welcoming and walkable.  Contrast that to the present day where the town is oriented around the highway and parking lots, vacant plots and unfinished developments occupy large swaths of prime land.  Sooke needs to start executing its official community plan.  It should encourage sustainable and attainable development centred around affordable housing (that people will actually buy) and neighbourhood commercial / live work spaces.  A development which consists of half million dollar + condos is probably not going to assist in Sooke's economic development much as the units will not sell quickly and the project will stall.  In short the scale of projects need to conform to financial reality and what the market will bear.  I would like to see Sooke encourage a growth in its tourism sector, especially sports and recreational tourism.  To find some way to cash in on the hordes of Victorian's who travel hours to Shawnigan or Cowichan to spend time on the water, when we have an unmatched harbour, basin and ocean only 40 minutes away.

Rick Kasper:

I would like to see Council do more to remove unnecessary barriers and red tape that do not encourage investment or protect the environment. Local government and small business could work more closely together to find better ways to promote our community and its benefits.

Ebony Logins:

Sustainable tourism development is important to our region. We need to act on a solid plan for growth that complements our greatest assets: our trees, rivers, mountains, the Juan de Fuca straight, and most of all, our people and culture. Providing youth with the resources and environment they need to succeed will help as well. Alongside our service groups, we can create a strong pool of local talent to business owners and foster the growth of local entrepreneurs.

Brenda Parkinson:

  • The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce receives funding from the District of Sooke to act on Economic Development issues. 
  • The two need to work more closely together to bring business to Sooke by incorporating development incentives.
  • Create incentives for new and existing businesses.
  • Create an Economic Development Committee and look at the benefits and disadvantages of hiring an Economic Development Officer.
  • Create tax incentives.
  • Expand on the Town Centre Revitalizations Bylaw.

Kevin Pearson:

My strategies are to support all existing services and look for ways to bring events not currently taking place here. Promote our Hotel and support activities that promote Sooke beyond our boundaries, i.e. sending delegates and representatives to trade shows focusing on communities attracting demographic segments.

Kel Phair:

Economic development strategies must mirror the goals and values of our community at large.  It must reflect the goals of all the residents, and all the businesses.  The public input is imperative for any economic development to succeed.  Input and strategies must link to the Official Community Plan which is an existing (in place) living document.  It’s imperative that it include Sooke’s historical background, current businesses and future trends.

Kerrie Reay: 

While I believe there are some key factors to economic growth, such as a need to have a reputation as a business friendly community and road infrastructure that allows for attracting business, we need to have community engagement with leadership to explore what areas of investment would work for a location in Sooke.  We will need to have a 5 year and 10 year strategy just like we have for financial spending.  This strategy may include, identifying what sectors would benefit from being located in Sooke, targeting certain markets, looking at using Sooke as a port, how Sooke can offer value over other communities, developing relationship with different trade markets.  These strategies will require drawing on the strengths and experiences of the business leaders and business community in Sooke.

Mark Whiteson:  no answer provided


QUESTION 4:  The local Chamber of Commerce, the Sooke Region Tourism Association, the Visitor Information Center and the Community Association have operated independently as fee-for-service organizations to the District of Sooke for many years.  In your view, does this arrangement work effectively and what strategies would you support to provide better value to the taxpayers of Sooke in providing these important services?

Mayoral Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Herb Haldane:  no answer provided

Maja Tait:  no answer provided

Councillor Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Jeff Bateman:

Again, I’d need to learn more about the situation. I’m not aware of the nuances of the Chamber and Community Association arrangements. As for tourism, I imagine SRTA and the Visitor Information Centre work in partnership to some large degree. I’m not sure where things stand with the Promote Sooke Task Force.

I’ve long been surprised that SRTA’s marketing (design, strategy, copy and messaging) is not reflected in our annual visitor guide (produced by the Sooke News Mirror with barely a change from year to year; SRTA’s marketing is big league by comparison and should be complemented by a matching visitor guide).

(Note: I’ve been a tourism copywriter for Tourism BC, Tourism Van Isle and DMOs in Campbell River, Oceanside and Northern Vancouver Island in recent years. These projects are commissioned through Primal Communications, which created Sooke’s Wild by Nature branding.  Sooke visitors according to the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Explorer Quotient model would be, in my opinion, “no-hassle travellers,”  “gentle explorers” and staycationing “Virtual Travellers”.)

Bev Berger:  no answer provided

Justin Hanson:

I believe that this system does work effectively.  The Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Association and Visitor Information Centre should be operated at arm's length from the municipality as the services they provide and the role they play are not core municipal services.  I have not seen a cost benefit analysis but I suspect that keeping them independent of the municipality would maintain their independence of thought and direction (they would not be bound by municipal politicking) and also likely result in a cost savings for the tax payers (yearly increases would be more in line with the private sector and not the municipal public sector).  I would like to see the Chamber do some of the things I mentioned under 2 above.

Rick Kasper:

Each of these organizations provides services based on their area of expertise and track record. For example, the Sooke Region Historical Society has provided Visitor Information Services at the museum for more than 30 years – they know the work, have the infrastructure and capacity and they do a tremendous job. The Sooke Community Association provides enormous value in the amount of assets it makes available to the entire community. The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce and Sooke Region Tourism Association bring expertise in economic development and promotion. If organizations have common objectives it often makes sense for them to work together to avoid duplication and share costs. Service agreements between the District of Sooke and local organizations, whether they are working independently or in a partnership, should first and foremost benefit the community as a whole. Since 2011 Sooke Council has brought in new policies to ensure value for tax dollars and accountability in contracts. There are reporting requirements and contracts are reviewed. If the community wishes to see different arrangements, then a contract can be changed or cancelled as needed.

Ebony Logins:

Our fee-for-service organizations are a vital part of our town’s success. The Visitor Information Centre is proof of this. Not only do they provide information to our visitors to keep them happy and safe, but they also offer experiences and a sense of community to local residents. They are a strong example of how successful these partnerships can be. There are improvements to be made, and I hope to work with these groups and with the community to better support these important services.

Brenda Parkinson:

  • Before making any decisions on the arrangements, I would need to read the contracts and understand what is expected of each of these organizations.
  • I would like to know if all the organizations receive funding from other forms of Government.

Kevin Pearson:

I have and do and will support these service agreements, my only change would be to attempt to attach some metrics to the activities and enhance the support in those that are giving the best results.

Kel Phair:

Over time I have noticed a very positive, direction driven, change in these organizations.  We cannot let this new found momentum diminish.  District must support all of them if we are to maintain our many goals already set in place.  With the logging industry slowing down dramatically and with commercial fishing virtually gone, we need that obvious direction we’ve already established…. Tourism.   To that, we need our Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Association, Information Center and the Community Association.  The Arts and Culture is growing annually, while adding value to the community.   Salmon Enhancement is taking care of one of our essential resources, but they need support too.  Our new Interpretation Center has added wonderful awareness too our salmon, both present and past.

Kerrie Reay: 

As in any contractual agreements, to determine whether they are effective or not requires an evaluation and that will need to be done with all four service agreements.  So without an evaluation it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on whether or not there is value for Sooke tax payers.  I do believe it is incumbent on the District of Sooke to ensure that all contractual agreements have a reporting and evaluation component to them, and I understand they do, but it also important to have contract oversight to ensure that it occurs so that value to the Sooke taxpayers can be determined.

Mark Whiteson:  no answer provided



QUESTION 5:  What do you recognize as being Sooke's biggest challenges in the next 1, 5, and 20 years?

Mayoral Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Herb Haldane:  no answer provided

Maja Tait:  no answer provided

Councillor Candidates (in alphabetical order of last name)

Jeff Bateman:

One Year: Increasingly heavy commuter traffic on the Sooke Road (which is closed three hours per week on average each year) and in town is a significant challenge. Highway upgrades are required (slow-traffic pullovers in particular) and speeds need to be enforced. Other issues: Sidewalks, streetlights and more effective health and emergency services. We need more doctors, a new x-ray clinic and extended hours at our walk-in clinic. Recruitment incentives are required for recruitment and retention of Sooke Fire Department volunteers, especially at North Sooke #2 Hall. (According to the 2009 Transportation Master Plan, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was “undertaking a long-term study of Highway 14 from Langford to Sooke … I’d be interested to read the results, which I can’t find online).

Five Years: The highway will likely be largely as it is today and will be handling still larger volumes of traffic (as the population reaches a projected 15,000 or so by 2025). Can we find ways to get commuters out of their cars and into public transit? Better rush-hour express transit service might help, and car-pooling incentives are possible, however the vast majority will continue to drive. A completed connector road system will take some pressure off the main road locally. Sewage system expansion should be underway (though at the all-candidates last week I heard there are logistical problems in getting pipe across the Sooke River). Perhaps a newly hired ED officer may be hatching a scheme to turn Goodridge Peninsula into a high-tech park.  And perhaps the public boat launch has been relocated elsewhere (the boat-building yard on Sooke Bay west of town, for instance) and its current space at the Prestige has become (in combo with Jock’s Dock property next door) a recreation centre with kayak and SUP rentals, sports charter operators, fresh fish store, etc.

20 Years: Ongoing lobbying may have convinced BC Ministry of Transport to reroute the Pacific Marine Circle Route around town on a new (perhaps multi-lane) highway to Langford. Quicker, more efficient traffic flow is the result and a second Sooke River crossing will be built in the bargain. If this was the case, we’d finally have chance to realize our potential as a charming, mixed-use commercial and residential harbour town perfect for welcoming tourists and the silver tsunami of retirees. Variations on Harbourside Cohousing will be dotted around the core. Service businesses bloom, and a growing population of active zoomers create more demand for retail shops. With a bypass, the current Sooke Rd. becomes a serpentine, low-volume scenic route with viewpoints galore … and a marketable Wild By Nature experience similar to driving California’s coastal Hwy 101 would now begin on the Sooke side of the 17 Mile House and link up with the circle route west of town.

Bev Berger:  no answer provided

Justin Hanson:

Sooke's biggest overall challenge regardless of the time period will attracting and keeping business in Sooke which will be difficult as it is competing with 13 other municipalities for those businesses and people, and especially the rampant growth and development in Langford.

Sooke's other biggest challenges in the next year will be renegotiating the Epcor contract and beginning the sidewalk and roundabout projects.

Sooke's biggest challenge in the next 5 years will be the further expansion of its interconnecting roads, and sewer system.

Sooke's biggest challenge in the next 20 years will be to deal with an aging population, and the execution of its official community plan.

Rick Kasper:

With challenge comes opportunity. Sooke is made up of dedicated and resilient people who have chosen to live or stay here and worked hard over many years to build the community. The population has grown and the economic base has changed, and it has evolved into the community we all love. In the future, Sooke will not be alone in facing global trends such as an aging population, ensuring food security and environmental, social and economic sustainability. Families will continue to face tough competition for jobs, high housing costs and juggling caregiving for children and aging family members. There will be many opportunities in the years ahead and future councils that can work together with the community to recognize and take advantage of those opportunities will be in the best position to overcome challenges. In the short term, Council will face challenges to hold the line on taxes while completing road improvements, trails and sidewalks in the town core, along with dealing with four major contracts that are coming due to ensure good value, fairness and decisions that are in the best interest of the community. These are: the contract with Epcor for sewer services; the CUPE (District non-management staff) and IAFF (firefighters) collective agreements, and the Mainroad contract. 

Ebony Logins:

Managing sustainability in a part of the country that is growing rapidly is a major challenge, especially when we have transportation and infrastructure obstacles to overcome. Meeting needs to create a stronger sense of place and community will require consistent efforts of creativity, innovation, and collaboration. This is a challenge I look forward to tackling. 

Brenda Parkinson:

  • The road network in the core of Sooke is a major challenge with congestion in and out of Sooke.
  • Downtown beautification, creating a dynamic town centre, with sidewalks, street light, benches and a gathering place.
  • Building out the town centre, following the vision of going down to the water.

Kevin Pearson:

I think the challenges to Sooke will be how to handle the growth in the long term, commuting challenges with the growth one road in and out. Density and where that should be and Zoning requirements and the Tax levels of commercial properties.
Short term is accessibility to services required by all people, health care etc. The economic reality is that competition from retailers outside our community mean that our Local Businesses have an uphill battle competing and surviving when a large part of our population is in a daily commute passing many opportunities of shopping which conveniently ties in with the travel time. I think service and pride in our community can and will address this. Leadership and Vision from Local Government will be essential to this success.

Kel Phair:

Well, in the first year we need to have a very good look at the business climate, what we have, what we need and what we want.  We must set the wheels in motion for downtown beautification.  We can wait no longer.  It is agreed that tourism is the future, so making the downtown core more attractive and appealing, is paramount.  It will be a journey, we won’t regret.   Within the next 5 years I can see a positive improvement in new businesses and current business retention.  We need employment opportunities and while small business is a good answer, it’s not the only answer.  District should investigate the takeover of the Sewage Treatment Plant.  Perhaps by doing so we will be getting rid of high cost million dollar contracts.  We also need to look at the possibilities of a Municipal Public Works so as to maintain downtown and city beautification.  In 20 years, it will be 2034.  Our culture must continue!   Farming and alternative energy needs I hope will advance and take advantage of Federal incentives.  Perhaps we should be investigating other avenues of planned growth and economic development. There exist possibilities in extended education facilities or institutions, maybe the film industry, trade schools, technology advancement, a college, amid size emergency medical center.  What do you dream of?  Talk to me.

Kerrie Reay:  

I think the biggest challenge is keeping spending within the District’s financial means.  With the current residential and commercial tax scheme, the burden for tax payers in Sooke is getting very high. Sooke is still a very young municipality and there continues to be expectations for many services that will take funding.  Infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, sewer expansion and even basic water to areas of the district are needed.  Protective services such as 24 hour policing and supporting the Fire Department.  As well there are requests for funding youth recreation and senior’s facilities.  So to ease the burden, the Councils of the future are going to have to support local economic growth, development and partnerships with provincial government to find ways that will support the growth of Sooke in a financially sustainable way.

Mark Whiteson:  no answer provided