Pearson says he will get more done for Sooke
by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News
Sunday, September 9, 2018
SOOKE ~ District of Sooke Councillor Kevin Pearson is running in the October 20 election to be the next mayor of Sooke.
“Leadership is the key issue,” he says. “Since 2014, Sooke council has made plans and approved funding but we’ve lacked leadership in delivering results,” Pearson said.
“The current leadership hasn’t been minding the store. Under focused leadership, we can do better,” he said this week.
Referring to the land that will be used for the upcoming new Sooke Library and other future builds, he says: “Other than the purchase of Lot A, we haven’t got a lot done.”
Pearson, 61, is a life-long Sooke resident. During his 2011-2014 term under then-Mayor Wendal Milne, Pearson chaired a land use committee which allowed for more exploration of detail before matters went before council. “I want to bring back that optimism and progressive vision,” Pearson said.
He says no committees presently have public appointees and almost everything is delegated to staff. He would create three committees: Finance, Administration and Human Resources; Land Use/OCP; and Arts & Beautification.
Pearson would also look at how non-profits are funded, and review the current Grant Review Committee process. “People begging for money really bothers me,” Pearson told West Shore Voice News this week. If the projects are going to be funded, they should be considered for line items to allow for ongoing funding stability, he says.
For housing it’s time to think outside the box, says Pearson. He sees a need for rezoning to allow for “creative housing” including mini-size cluster homes (around 600 to 700 sq ft) which also capitalizes on available land, he explains. People need affordable places to live (that’s not the same as ‘affordable housing projects’, though he supports those). Pearson wants to “get rental apartment supply up”. The current zoning does not allow density for apartment buildings with, say, 40 or more units. In fact, he sees 65 units per hectare as a goal.
“There is a realization that we need to be a progressive community,” says Pearson, and sees himself likely working with a progressive council after October 20. As for people resisting higher-density housing: “Build it and show them (that it is needed and welcome).”
“We need to do a better job engaging and listening to the people who live, work and volunteer here,” says Pearson, saying his attention will be on what’s happening right here in Sooke, focussing on local priorities. Foremost is housing, but also salmon enhancement. He will be speaking to a motion about salmon protection next week at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler.
While issues like health services expansion, Highway 14 improvements and spaces in schools are important to Sooke residents, those are under provincial jurisdiction. While municipalities can, do, and must have influence with the province for best results, Pearson will actively work with what can be locally.
Sooke’s population is over 13,000 now, which Pearson calls “a critical stage”. He wants to lead “with a clear vision in the best interest of the whole community, not just special interests”. Saying Sooke is facing tremendous pressure for growth, Pearson sees the need for more infrastructure without losing the best qualities of the community.
Pearson trained as a millwright and served his apprenticeship at Sooke Forest Products Sawmill on Goodridge Peninsula. Shifting to a career at Canada Post, Pearson rose through the ranks where he is currently the Manager of Operations in Victoria. Retirement is coming soon, so he can be a full time mayor.
Community involvement for Pearson has included helping the Sooke Community Association and Sooke Lions with events, actively supporting salmon enhancement and the fishing community, and coaching minor sports. He has served two terms on Sooke council, and in December 2015 notably shepherded a watershed decision on funding the arts. He is married to Trudy and they have three adult children and four grandchildren in Sooke.
This article also published in the September 7, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (released September 9).