SOOKE – Local News

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SOOKE STUFF TO NOTE [more events and details on EVENTS page] :

  • Sooke Canada Day – Sunday July 1 at Sooke River Campground – gates open 11 am, official ceremony at 12 noon, fireworks at dusk

 

CURRENT HEADLINES: SOOKE REGION

   


 

New LED directional arrows along Highway 14 near Gillespie Road, east of Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo – June 2018]

Wednesday, June 20 ~ SOOKE. If travelling on Highway 14 is part of your day for commuting, business or tourism, here’s your chance for public input on improvements to that long Corridor. It runs from Veterans Memorial Parkway in Langford, west through the communities of Sooke and Jordan River, all the way to Port Renfrew.

Yesterday evening in Sooke about 140 people attended a public open house regarding Highway 14 corridor improvements. Ministry staff felt the response of attendees was positive overall. About 20 feedback forms were handed in at the session. “We will assess the comments when the engagement period closes on July 15,” says MOTI.

The open house was an opportunity to present an update on previously announced projects that are underway for the corridor (including a major roadside announcement in Sooke by Premier John Horgan on January 19), and gather feedback from the community on future priorities for Highway 14. Materials from the open house, including the online feedback form, are available at www.gov.bc.ca/highway14

Public feedback is being considered along with technical, environmental and financial information. The resultant transportation improvements are intended to help ensure that Hwy 14 meets the needs of users in the short and long term. Public input can be provided up to July 15, 2018 online at gov.bc.ca/highway14 or by emailing comments to highway14@gov.bc.ca . Written feedback can be sent to MOTI, 3rd Floor, 2100 Labieux Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9

Various improvements already in the $10 million improvements plan include:

  • the installation of signalized lights at Sooke River Road (construction to begin Fall 2018).
  • a new eastbound lane added at Jacklin Road to allow transit to bypass the traffic queues at the signalized Jacklin Road intersection (construction to be completed by Fall 2018).
  • Bus pullouts have been installed (2 at West Shore Parkway, 2 at Laidlaw, 2 at Harbourview).
  • Arrows on the curve near Gillespie Road and the 17 Mile Pub have been installed, some of which are made more visible with LED. There is now also a flashing beacon at Kangaroo Rd.
  • Speed reader boards have been installed at Parkland Road.
  • Paving on Otter Point Road is being done this summer.
  • The Sombrio rest area design improvements are complete, with construction this summer. A slow vehicle pullout east of Muir Creek is being designed for construction this summer.

 

Tuesday, June 19 ~ SOOKE.  If travelling on Highway 14 is part of your day for commuting, business or tourism, here’s your chance for public input on improvements to that long corridor.

The provincial route runs from Veterans Memorial Parkway in Langford, west through the communities of Sooke and Jordan River, all the way to Port Renfrew.

Feedback can be provided up to July 15, 2018 online at gov.bc.ca/highway14 or by emailing comments to highway14@gov.bc.ca .

Written feedback can be sent to Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, 3rd Floor, 2100 Labieux Road, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9

More: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-infrastructure/projects/highway-14

 


 

Friday, June 15 ~ SOOKE.  A survey about health services in Sooke is online at www.sooke.ca/health. Ongoing updates regarding Sooke Region Primary Care will also be posted at that site following this weekend’s open house on health planning in the region.

The survey focuses on use of the existing West Coast Family Medical Clinic. Questions include whether or not you already have a family doctor, and where you go for urgent care with the West Coast Family Medical Clinic is closed.

The open house on Saturday, June 16 will be hosted by the District of Sooke, South Island Division of Family Practice, and Island Health to present the Sooke Region Community Health Services Planning document. It runs from 1 to 4 pm, at Sooke Baptist Church, 7110 West Coast Road.

“Community Health Service planning has brought together multiple partners focused on developing local solutions for Sooke,” states the District of Sooke. They are providing the open house as an opportunity for the community to learn about the planning document, the priorities identified, and the proposed objectives to support improved access to health care in the region.

Financial resources and responsibility for public health care rest largely within the provincial government, making the role of local government one of advocacy.

Members of the community discussed target health service issues at the May 2016 Sooke Health Summit [West Shore Voice News photo]

In December of 2013, a Primary Health Care Services Working Group (PHCSWG) was formed, based on input from the community and an existing municipal initiative to address broad health and social needs.

The PHCSWG brings together local and regional health care professionals, and since 2013 the group has tackled a multitude of community health needs, including physician recruitment, improved medical imaging services (X-ray and ultrasound), Sooke X-Ray Briefing Document 2016 (In late 2017, West Coast Medical Imaging improved the X-Ray technology available in Sooke), collaborating on research and programming regarding the support needs of senior citizens, advocacy for continued support of existing health infrastructure, and hosting two community forums to collect input on community needs and share resources.

That was followed by a Health Summit in May 2016 at Sooke Community Hall, with break-out groups where discussion drilled down into specific issues.

The District of Sooke admits that the idea of a “one-stop shop” Health Care Centre has been discussed in Sooke for more than a decade, with several proposals coming forward during that time. Varying circumstances have halted each proposal, but the need for expanded primary care has not changed.

It was announced by the BC Government last week that this fall a full team-based primary care centre will open in Surrey, where a larger population is ideal for the initiative.

The focus of the PHCSWG in Sooke over the past year has been on further exploring improved Primary Health Care for the Sooke Region. A steering committee which includes representation from Island Health was tasked with moving this initiative forward, with a stakeholder engagement session held in November 2017. The Sooke Region Community Health Planning Document outlines the key themes and priorities from this session.


 

Friday, June 15 ~ SOOKE. Things are moving along with continued changes to commuter routes (highways and bus lanes).

Last week four of the six bus shelters along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) were seen to be in place; all to be finished soon and some clearly already in use. There are also some new LED large arrow signs along the curve near the 17-Mile pub.

For those who drive into Victoria from the west shore, note that the left turn from Hwy 1 onto Carey Road was closed as of June 10, making way for the new northbound bus lane.

Heading northbound on Hwy 1 out of Victoria, toward the west shore. [West Shore Voice News – June 2018]

This week construction crews began building a new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road at Roche Cove, which is an important alternative route to Hwy 14 during those closures that cause considerable traffic delays when there’s a crash or bad weather conditions on the Hwy 14 corridor that is so essential for Sooke commuters.

  • The $3.66 million contract work by North Gate Pacific Contracting Ltd. of Maple Ridge includes a two-lane concrete bridge on an improved road alignment, with 1.5-metre paved shoulders for safer crossing by pedestrians and cyclists. It will replace the existing single-lane timber bridge, and is expected to open to traffic in fall 2018.
  • In the coming weeks and months, delays of up to 20 minutes may occur 9am to 3pm Monday to Saturday to accommodate rock blasting.
  • There will also be a small number of full-day closures which will be posted in advance on roadside message signs, with a detour via Kangaroo Rd and East Sooke Rd.

The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure will be holding a public input opportunity in Sooke soon. Many Sooke-area businesses and residents have for years been calling for Hwy 14 to be a more reliable commuter route in and out of the town. Improvements to highway infrastructure and public transit are being seen as the response from the provincial government under Premier John Horgan, who is MLA for the region.

[Updated from the article that first ran in the June 8, 2018 West Shore Voice News print/PDF edition]


 

Monday, June 11 ~ MUNICIPAL ELECTION WATCH ~ SOOKE.

It’s not often that you see one candidate run for two positions in the same election. But coming up this fall, former District of Sooke Councillor Herb Haldane is back in the game with a footprint in two camps: running for a council seat in the District of Sooke and also for the position of Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) director. To the Sooke council he would bring two terms of experience (2008-2011 & 2011-2014). He says his run at the JDFEA position is so he can have a seat at the CRD board table, as he sees problems with regional governance. In 2014 Haldane ran against Maja Tait for mayor; Tait achieved a 2-to-1 win. In JDFEA, Haldane will be up against 3-term JDFEA director Mike Hicks. Haldane is a home builder in the Sooke area.

One more time. JDFEA director Mike Hicks says he is running “for the last time” in the upcoming October 2018 election. Hicks has stood up for water rights in the unincorporated JDFEA and over the years helped guide the preparation of official community plans in the area, toward the CRD’s finalization of the Regional Growth Strategy which finally occurred around the end of 2017. JDFEA includes East Sooke, and areas west of Sooke out to/ including Port Renfrew. Hicks has also served as the chair of the SEAPARC commission for the past few years; he produced a successful referendum to see SEAPARC get some expansion renovations (soon underway). Hicks and his family operate a B&B in the Sooke area.

> As first published in the June 8, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News (page 4) 


 

Bus shelter on Sooke Road (Hwy 14), newly installed June 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, June 10 ~ WEST SHORE & SOOKE. Things are moving along with continued changes to commuter routes (highways and bus lanes).

  • This past week four of the six bus shelters along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) were seen to be in place; all to be finished soon.
  • For those who drive into Victoria from the west shore, note that the left turn from Hwy 1 onto Carey Road will be closed as of June 10, making way for the new northbound bus lane.
  • Construction crews will begin building a new two-lane bridge next week on Gillespie Road at Roche Cove, which is an important alternative route to Hwy 14 during those closures that cause considerable traffic delays when there’s a crash or bad weather conditions on the Hwy 14 corridor that is so essential for Sooke commuters. The $3.66 million contract work by North Gate Pacific Contracting Ltd. of Maple Ridge includes a two-lane concrete bridge on an improved road alignment, with 1.5-metre paved shoulders for safer crossing by pedestrians and cyclists. It will replace the existing single-lane timber bridge, and is expected to open to traffic in fall 2018. In the coming weeks and months, delays of up to 20 minutes may occur 9am to 3pm Monday to Saturday to accommodate rock blasting. There will also be a small number of full-day closures which will be posted in advance on roadside message signs, with a detour via Kangaroo Rd and East Sooke Rd.
  • The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure is reportedly holding a public input opportunity in Sooke soon. Many Sooke-area businesses and residents have for years been calling for Hwy 14 to be a more reliable commuter route in and out of the town. Improvements to highway infrastructure and public transit are being seen as the response from the provincial government under Premier John Horgan, who is MLA for the region.

 

Student presenters at the 2018 EMCS grad ceremony, June 2. [Supplied photo]

Friday, June 8 ~ SOOKE. Last week at the EMCS grad ceremony (at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium, June 2), there were several speakers including Premier John Horgan, SD62 vice-chair Bob Phillips, 2018 Valedictorian Andrew Rodd, Class Historians Lucy Bridal and Colby Benty.

There were greetings from SD62 Associate Superintendent Dave Strange and District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. The Territorial Recognition was by Songhees Elder Burch Dick, with All Nations welcomes from the Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke Nations.

Following graduation, our students’ plans include working, starting apprenticeships, volunteering, travelling, and beginning post-secondary education. Over 60% of EMCS graduates plan to begin post-secondary studies in September and several have received entrance scholarships from colleges and universities. SD62 students will be moving on to a variety of post-secondary institutions including:

• Camosun College
• Douglas College
• John Casablancas Institute
• Justice Institute of BC
• Kwantlen Polytechnic
• Langara College
• McGill
• Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
• Pacific Design Academy
• Simon Fraser University
• Sprott Shaw College
• St. Clair College
• University of Alberta
• University of British Columbia
• University of Victoria
• University of Winnipeg Collegiate
• Vancouver Film School
• Westcoast College of Massage Therapy

This year’s EMCS Graduates have been awarded well over $100,000 in scholarships and bursaries. SD62 thanks the many local sponsors for their generous support of EMCS students.


Sunday, June 3 ~ SOOKE. Sooke tourism businesses look at destination marketing tax.

There was a Destination Marketing and tourism economy discussion in Sooke on Sunday afternoon, May 27. The afternoon event at Vancouver Island Lodge offered a detailed exploration of what it would take to establish the District of Sooke (possibly in combination with the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area) to become a government-approved as a Destination Marketing region and be able to collect an accommodation tax on recreational establishments of four or more rooms in the Sooke to Port Renfrew region.

Guest speakers were Peter Harrison from Destination BC; Calum Matthews from Tourism Vancouver Island; Brian White who is program head for the Master of Arts in Tourism Management program at Royal Roads University (RRU); and Kathleen Gilbert of the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission.

Intel contributions about the region were offered by Sooke Region Museum director Lee Boyko, and Mike Hicks who operates a small B&B. Also attending were District of Sooke Councillors Kevin Pearson, Rick Kasper and Brenda Parkinson.

Discussion was mainly about whether the Sooke region should sign up for the the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) by which accommodation businesses could collect a per-night levy of 2% or 3% that goes to the BC government for payment back to the group that collected it. Or whether a business working group is preferable (less structure but possibly less transparent/accountable).

The underlying thrust for the event was to somehow increase revenues to be put toward marketing tourism in the full Sooke region. For many years that tourism marketing function was the municipality’s expectation of the Sooke Region Tourism Association (SRTA) which largely used an annual grant from the District of Sooke (and a matching grant from Tourism Vancouver Island) to maintain a well-paid web contract and for large ad buys in (Alberta, Washington state, and Oregon as opposed to to island and BC audiences.

District of Sooke Acting CAO Brent Blackhall said Sunday: “We almost got there” referring to discussions among local tourism leaders and the District. Apparently $30,000 “is not enough” said tourism operators that day.

A 2% levy could bring in much more, which a core group of tourism operators say would attract more visitors to the region. The 3% tax sees 20% of total collections retained by Destination BC for redistribution to groups for putting on special events.

RRU’s Brian White reminded proponents that a business plan comes first. Destination BC has strict guidelines and a strident application process.

Currently 56 communities around BC operate MRDT programs (19 of those at the 3% level), generating $60 million per year. Of those programs, about 70% are authorized through local governments who then hire a contractor, 15% are managed by tourism organizations, and 10% directly are handled directly by local government.
Langford recently signed on with MRDT; a 2% room tax starts Nov 1.

[This article was first published in the June 1, 2018 print/PDF edition of West Shore Voice News, page 5]


 

Friday, June 1 ~ SOOKE. True Key Hotels & Resorts this week announced SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort as the newest addition to the True Key management portfolio. It’s True Key’s ninth property in BC and second in the Sooke region (the other is Sooke Harbour Resort & Marina on West Coast Road).

“SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort embodies perfectly the luxury properties True Key is proud to manage,” said True Key’s president Michael Anderson, heralding the oceanside location, views of the natural environment, and “impressive experiences”.

SookePoint Ocean Cottages Resort is a newly developed resort on the southwest tip of Vancouver Island in East Sooke, perched cliff-side above the Pacific Ocean. Ferry transport across the Sooke basic might be set up.

The 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom premium rental suites offer 640 to 1340 sqft living area with oversize walls of glass offering 180-degree views.


 

Tuesday, May 29 ~ SOOKE. In addition to being a yard sale, it’s a community event!

The 6th annual yard sale in Sunriver Estates gets underway on Saturday June 2. From 8 am to 2 pm, rain or shine.

Things for sale include the yard sale items from over 75 homes, as well as crafts, hot dogs, baked goods and more. Small bills recommended for cash purchases.

The geographical start point is at 2350 Sunriver Way.


Family Fun Day in at the Sooke Family Resource Centre on May 26 [West Shore Voice News photo by Chelsea Kirkpatrick]

Saturday, May 26 ~ SOOKE. The free Family Fun Day at the Sooke Family Resource Centre today May 26 celebrated 30 years of their Kingfisher Preschool program.

The three-hour event included free hot dogs by the Sooke Lions Club. SEAPARC brought out games.

And there were children’s activities such as face painting, rock painting, seed planting and a memory-cherishing booth called leave-a-leaf. Cherry Lane Equine brought along their Farm Animal Expo for the kids to enjoy.

A raffle had some great prizes. First prize was two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies! Second prize was a night’s stay at The Park Inn in Vancouver, a ferry voucher and Playland tickets!  Third prize was a silver pendant made by indigenous artist Carey Newman.

Lots of families came out in the nice weather today to enjoy the fun.

~ notes and photos filed by Chelsea Kirkpatrick for West Shore Voice News


 

 

Friday, May 25 ~ SOOKE. Pretty exciting, a free event celebrating 30 years of the Sooke Family Resource Society (SFRS) Kingfisher Preschool (walk their memory lane, created by the teachers)! They’ ll have info on hand about the services offered
 
It’s part of Family Fun Day at the Sooke Family Resource Centre coming up tomorrow Saturday May 26, from 11am to 2pm at 6672 Wadams Way. Free hot dogs & cake. Games, crafts, face painting. Farm animal expo. Raffle.
 
Over the years, Kingfisher has been the first group learning experience for more than 1,000 Sooke children and their families.
 
“Some may remember the first preschool at Maple Avenue. And some may remember “Teddy Bear House” out on the field behind Journey Middle School,” says SFRS coordinator Nicky Logins.
“Today, some of our ‘Kingfisher kids’ have come full circle, with their own children now enrolled here,” says Logins. “Others are engaged in elementary, middle, high school and community activities they enjoy.”
 

Photo: Local musician Taylor Caspersen, performing with Gord Phillips and Thom Southwood. [Photo provided by Sooke Family Resource Society]

Some well-known local grownups were once Kingfisher preschoolers, now giving back to their community as volunteers or entrepreneurs. Alumnus and local music personality Taylor Caspersen will be sharing his talents at the May 26 event.
 
The Family Fun Day event will also feature music by Janet McTavish and free hot dog lunch provided by Sooke Lions Club. SEAPARC is offering games, Children’s Health Foundation is bringing the cake, SFRS is planning children’s activities, and Cherry Lane Equine is sharing their Farm Animal Expo!
 
The raffle features prizes by WestJet and Witness Blanket artist Carey Newman. The draw will be at 1:45pm. Tickets on sale at Family Fun Day.

 

Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander Jeff McArthur [West Shore Voice News file photo 2015]

Wednesday, May 23 ~ SOOKE. The May long weekend (from Friday May 18 through holiday Monday May 21) was a busy one for Sooke RCMP officers who dealt with 68 calls for service, says Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander Jeff McArthur.

There were nine traffic-related complaints, including racing motorcycles, erratic driving, excessive speeding, and impaired driving.

There were two accident reports — one on Friday May 18 near the Zoom Gas station resulting in vehicle damage only.  And another on Sunday May 20 in Port Renfrew. For that one, Sooke RCMP received numerous reports regarding a female being struck by a vehicle on the Pacific Marine Road, possibly having lunged in front of the vehicle. On further investigation the matter was determined to be connected to a domestic dispute, more of a situation where the pedestrian struck the vehicle, driven by a subject known to her. Alcohol was a factor, the female received superficial injuries, and the matter is still under investigation.

On Sunday afternoon, May 20, police received complaints about a male wandering in the Pacheedaht Campground, garnishing a hammer, causing a disturbance and making random threats to other campers he encountered. Sooke RCMP members as stationed in Port Renfrew for the weekend responded. “They encountered and arrested the highly aggressive man, seizing a hammer and knife. Alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs are considered the main contributing factor to this man’s bizarre behaviour,” says McArthur. The man was transported to Sooke Detachment, and held. A 44-year-old of no fixed address is facing charges of uttering threats, regarding his menacing comments to murder the arresting officers, and for mischief relevant to damage done to RCMP cells while in custody. He has been released on Undertaking with conditions and is scheduled to make his first appearance in court July 21.

Over the night of Monday May 21/Tuesday May 22 a total of 10 vehicles were broken into at the parking lot of Sombrio Beach. Vehicle windows were smashed in during these thefts, and locked glove-boxes pried open. Thieves were somewhat successful in obtaining items of value during these thefts. There was also a theft from vehicle at the Parkinson Creek Trailhead Access on May 18. Sooke RCMP remind those using the recreation areas along Highway 14 to refrain from leaving anything of value in their vehicles.


 

Architect’s rendering of the new Sooke Library exterior (construction to start Fall 2018).

Sunday, May 20 ~ SOOKE ~ New Sooke library will produce tht long-awaited community space.

The beaming smiles of Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) senior staff and board chair said it all. The unveiling of the design for the new library in Sooke on Wednesday evening, May 16, was a crowning moment.

The political road to effectively giving Sooke a professional community gathering place has been long. Sooke has long required an accessible, tech-supported space for young families, youth, seniors, special-purpose uses, and those who are new-to-town as well as residents who require a drop-in space.

The existing books/AV materials from the current library on Anna Marie Road will be moved over to the new building on Wadams Way plus a new ‘opening day collection’, serving to triple the current offering.

But libraries these days aren’t so much about lending out books as facilitating an accessible interactive space. This interior designed in soft blues and wood tones (inspired by impressions of Whiffin Spit) includes spacious entry, multi-purpose space (for up to 50 people), study rooms (4 to 6 people), breakout rooms (1 to 2 people), computer areas, laptop bar, music studio, maker space, and teen/children areas all on main (with facility support down). Quick collections return is facilitated with an elevator and two parking spaces for 5-minute drop-off in addition to the 59 regular parking spaces. There will be electric vehicle charging stations, as well as a secure bicycle area with self-service repair station.

The VIRL business model since 2010 has been for a community to provide the land, then VIRL constructs the facility at their own cost from resources pooled from its 26 member communities (39 libraries in towns large and small). It took District of Sooke council longer than most of the other municipalities to come around to its own reasons for providing ‘free land’ to VIRL for a new library.

VIRL Board Chair Barry Avis and Executive Director Rosemary Bonanno told West Shore Voice News that “it took Sooke longer to learn the issues of community and development” and that they don’t consider Sooke to be rural. Avis called the design ‘exceptional’ and Bonanno coined it ‘iconic’.

Construction is expected to take about 1.5 years past a Fall 2018 start. Building designs are on the VIRL website: http://virl.bc.ca/branches/sooke

|| Article by Mary P Brooke, as first published on page 1 in the May 18, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Wednesday, May 16 ~ SOOKE. Tonight the Sooke community will see the architectural designs for their new library. At last. [View this article on its own page] | Article by Mary P Brooke

Although a new library for the growing town has been officially at the top of the priority list for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board since about 2012, the procession of steps to getting a new building has been plagued with financial delays and political complications, even missteps. Meanwhile, a rented premise (considered a costly alternative) has continued on Anna Marie Road within town centre.

The snags have had mostly to do with finding land upon which to build the library (and all the politics involved with that). VIRL puts up libraries at their own cost but the municipality must provide the land. The VIRL business model to produce libraries this way pushed their 27 or so member communities into a new paradigm of doing business.

Sooke Council for all their pontification about supporting the community, for years seemingly gagged at the thought of providing land for free (despite the obvious benefits of moving ahead with a facility that serves a broad range or purposes in a community, well beyond loaning out books).

The District of Sooke Mayor in 2011-2014 was Wendal Milne; the mayor since 2014 has been Maja Tait. Through all this period, the District of Sooke rep to the VIRL board has been Sooke Councillor Kerrie Reay.

Finally a few years ago — with some political muscle input by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks at the VIRL board table — the District of Sooke bought a section of previous farmland along Wadams Way (which runs parallel to Sooke Road). Called ‘Lot A’, that land is now a crown jewel for the District of Sooke (positioned behind Evergreen Shopping Centre it could effectively expand town centre). Within Lot A, a section has been shaved off for VIRL to get on with building a new 10,000 sq.ft. facility, a swath of natural growth forest felled and all.

Tonight at 5:30 pm the proposed new architectural designs for the new library will be unveiled in the humble digs that are the lower level of Sooke Community Hall. At 6:30 pm (to 8 pm) VIRL will make a formal presentation and take questions. Open to the public. Given the local interest in this long-awaited evolution, the downstairs level at the community hall will probably be packed to overflowing.


 

Wednesday, May 16 ~ WEST SHORE / SD62. A presentation for parents about ‘Raising Digitally Responsible Youth’ will be held this evening, Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm in the theatre at Belmont Secondary School, 3041 Langford Lake Road.

“With society heading in a direction of being constantly connected to technology, what do we need to know as parents to protect our kids and teach them responsible and appropriate use of technology?”, it was pitched to parents by the SD62 school district.

“The parameters of rules and expectations that you put in place at home will undoubtedly guide their behaviour in the years to come.”

  • Social Media Update – The most current apps & trends in their social media lives.
  • Pick Your Battles! – You will have to balance the yin with the yang, promote independence whilst taking a strong stance on certain subjects.
  • Current Research – Brain development & technology, violent video games.
  • Digital Footprint and Reputation – With their future approaching, recruiters and employers are taking note – what will they find?

The presentation will be delivered by Safer Schools Together – an organization focused on promoting a climate and culture of safety in schools through comprehensive education. www.saferschoolstogether.com


 

Saturday, May 12 ~ BC. The BC College of Veterinarians this week announced that they have banned the declawing of domestic cats.

On May 8, the college officially banned the practice of partial digital amputation, also known as onychectomy, or declawing. The procedure will now only be allowed for medical reasons.

In a statement, the college said the practice is banned immediately for domestic cats, except when medically necessary.

“Elective and non-therapeutic declawing is ethically problematic and not an appropriate means of dealing with feline behaviour issues,” the statement said.

“I find that decision wonderful because when they declaw them they take a piece of the toes with it,” says Margarita Dominguez who operates the Victoria Pet Food Bank and Feral Cat Rehabilitation Society based out of Sooke.

The move brings the province in line with the recommendation of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), which has condemned the practice. Nova Scotia’s college had already enacted a ban.

Medical reasons for declawing include a biopsy for diagnosis, severe trauma, or medical conditions affecting the health of the nail.


 

Sooke Community Choir performs their HITS concert, May 4, at Sooke Community Hall [photo by Chelsea Kirkpatrick]

Friday, May 11 ~ SOOKE. Sooke Community Choir takes their ‘HITS’ pop concert on the road to Qualicum Beach this weekend 
================================

A hot ‘HITS’ performance on a warm May 4 evening Sooke was the opening night of a four-concert series of well-known pop songs by the Sooke Community Choir. Three nights May 4, 5, and 6 at Sooke Community Hall.

The Friday night audience of about 100 folks there for a good time heard the choir of about 60 singers open with a rendition of Creep by RadioHead. That intro got everyone tapping fingers and toes.

That was followed by a few favourites including Hello by Adele and Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, and an amazing arrangement of Battle Of Jericho. Two songs that evening encouraged audience participation — Sweet Caroline and Wagon Wheel. Lyrics for those songs were on the back of the programme to encourage a sing-along.

There were families, couples and individuals who were treated to harmonious music. The 90 minute show included intermission.  The Choir seemed pleased with their performance. A well-deserved applause filled the hall when all was done.

Where do they get so much passion for their amazing performance? Many of the choir members have been into music since they were children although some joined in the last couple years and have found it to be a hobby and a family. They encourage those who think they would like to join to just do it! The choir’s artistic director and conductor Bruce Ruddell said that he doesn’t set expectations, but rather encourages his choir to do their best and enjoy themselves.

Accompanying the 60-person choir was pianist Kathy Russell, Steve Cross on guitar, and drummer Mark Owen. Soloists in HITS are Jonathan Francoeur, Elena Hoath, Jason Ince, Mike Kelley, and Iain McLean.

‘HITS’ was very well received that first evening. The final concert is this weekend on Saturday May 12 at 2 pm upisland at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street, in Qualicum Beach. Tickets for this concert will be sold at the door: $20 (for under age 16 the tickets are free).

~ concert notes by Chelsea Kirkpatrick for West Shore Voice News


 

Thursday, May 10 ~ BC. Funding to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets will increase by about $0.75 million to expand the BC Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program, it was announced on May 5. The total coupon amount will increase from $240 per participant household to $336 (as weekly coupons for four months).

The number of participating households is expected to rise from 3,708 to over 3,900 and the number of expectant mothers in the program will be up by 450 by March 2020, it was stated in a Ministry of Health news release.

The coupon program runs June 11 to October 31 at participating farmers’ markets in 57 communities including these in the south Vancouver Island area: Duncan, Esquimalt, Sooke, and Victoria’s James Bay and Moss Street Markets.

The program provides nutrition and skills-building programs which are offered by community agencies associated with each participating market. Coupons help with the purchase of local food including vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish. The program is part of the BC Government’s poverty reduction work.

Program benefits also include improved economic activity through an increased and sustained customer base for local and regional farmers, which in turn has allowed them to grow and diversify.


 

Wednesday, May 9 ~ SOOKE. The Sooke Community Arts Council (SCAC) has a mandate from the BC Arts Council to provide opportunities for artists in the area to exhibit their works. Each summer the Sooke-based non-profit society offers ‘Art in Park’ as one such opportunity.

Combined with a classic car show (now that’s kinda funky!), the Art in the Park event this year on Sunday July 22 is held at Sooke River Campground (The Flats) on Phillips Road. Four fun hours: 10 am to 2 pm.

At this point, SCAC is looking for artists who want to have a table outdoors that day, for displaying and selling their creations. Free for art council members, $15 for non-members (includes a membership for the remaining fiscal year).

The art side of the July 22 event will feature a live painting demo, art for exhibit and sale, as well as photography, cards, rocks & jewelry for sale. To register a table for your art, phone 250-380-8090. www.sookecommunityarts.com


Wednesday, May 9 ~ SOOKE. This is a delicious announcement … at Mom’s Cafe on Sunday, May 13 there will be Mother’s Day Specials all day!  Warning, reading this could make your mouth water!

BREAKFAST ~ 8AM-11:30AM. Cinnamon french toast topped with whip cream. $12.95.

LUNCH ~ 11:30AM – 4PM. Grilled Cajun chicken caesar wrap with bacon & asiago cheese. $12.95.

DINNER ~ 4PM to CLOSE. Chicken Neptune Dinner: 5 oz chicken breast topped with hollandaise sauce, 3 tiger prawns, mashed potatoes and vegetables. $18.95

Mom’s Cafe is that place also known for great pies! Located at 2036 Shields Road in Sooke. Phone: 250-642-3314.


 

School playground funding has been announced by the BC Government, with 51 schools getting new playgrounds by Sept 2018.

Tuesday, May 8 ~ VICTORIA. Students at 51 schools in BC will have new playgrounds to use in September, as part of a new playground fund that takes fundraising pressure off parents.

Introduced during a media event by Minister of Education Rob Fleming, the announcement was made by Premier John Horgan at Quadra Elementary in Victoria during the lunch hour with the happy background sound of kids at play.

“All students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise,” said Premier Horgan. “That’s why we’re lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today, and every year moving forward, to build playgrounds where they are needed most.”

“Playgrounds make a real difference, for fitness, long term health care costs, and PAC’s who spend an inordinate amount of time focused on raising money for playgrounds,” Horgan said during the outdoor announcement.

Quadra Elementary (in SD61) will receive $105,000 for an accessible playground. In the west shore, the school getting a fund of $105,000 this year for a playground upgrade is Ecole Poirier Elementary in Sooke (SD62). There is no SD63 (Saanich) school on the list in this first round.

This funding is part of a new, ongoing Playground Equipment Program providing up to $5 million each year to school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment. This year, 26 schools are receiving $90,000 for a standard playground, and 25 schools are receiving $105,000 for a universally accessible playground.

Districts applied for the funding in April 2018. Playgrounds are being funded based on greatest need. Schools currently without a playground got priority, followed by schools where the existing playground is aging. Districts not receiving funding this year are eligible for next year. This year’s list: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Playground_fund.pdf

Basic playground at Ecole Poirier Elementary (2015 photo)

“I’ve heard from parents that they need relief from fundraising tens of thousands of dollars for playground equipment – that’s a lot of bake sales and bottle drives for today’s busy parents,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Today, we’re delivering this fund to help parents, and provide access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the play equipment students need.”

Generally, schools’ parent advisory councils (PACs) have to fundraise large sums of money for new and replacement playground equipment. Schools without that capability are often left without playgrounds. PACs have had to deal with fundraising for a wide range of school needs since cutbacks under the BC Liberal government during the mid-2000s. By this decade, PACs had just resigned themselves to fundraising for things that years ago (and in other provinces) were provided by the government school-funding.

“This new program will alleviate some of the inequities in parent fundraising, and enable PACs to strengthen their advisory and advocacy roles,” said Jen Mezei, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. “Parents have advocated for this for over a decade, and we thank the government for the ongoing commitment. We believe that safe and accessible playgrounds should not be dependent on a school community’s ability to raise funds, and for too long have felt the burden to ensure schools and school communities have safe and engaging play spaces.”

Budget 2018 includes a record $2 billion in school capital funding over the next three years, to invest in building new schools in growing communities, fixing aging schools and making schools safer for students in the event of a large earthquake.

Playgrounds are important for children’s development and learning. They encourage outdoor physical activity, and help students learn how to share, work together, overcome challenges and be creative. Outdoor play can help students focus and learn more effectively in the classroom.


 

HITS concert by Sooke Community Choir to feature well known pop tunes.

Wednesday, May 2 ~ SOOKE. Modern hits in a fresh new concert by Sooke Community Choir

Keeping it fresh and interesting, each concert by the Sooke Community Choir offers something a little bit different. For their ‘HITS’ spring concert May 4, 5 and 6 in Sooke (at Sooke Community Hall) and May 12 in Qualicum Beach, audiences will be treated to some creative performances of modern pop.

“This is a show of ‘ear worms’ — songs that have stuck in people’s heads over the years,” says Sooke Community Choir artistic Bruce Ruddell. “Pop is never boring,” he says.

Accompanying the 60-person choir will be pianist Kathy Russell, Steve Cross on guitar, and drummer Mark Owen. Soloists in this season’s concert are Jonathan Francoeur, Elena Hoath, Jason Ince, Mike Kelley, and Iain McLean.

Fairly recent songs like Adele’s Hello, older pieces like Toto’s Africa, and pretty new ones like Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud are sure to delight.

“Something most people don’t pay attention to in pop music is the craft of writing those songs. It’s phenomenally
difficult,” says Ruddell. “When a pop song does get to that level of being a huge success, there’s a reason for that. It’s touching people in some ways. Organization and creation of that sort of piece is not easy. Our HITS concert is celebrating the pop song,” he told West Shore Voice News this week.

Ruddell wants this concert to feel like going to a club. As a composer and arranger, Ruddell has pushed a lot of the arrangements “into a another level” by adding instrumental breaks, cutting parts that are poorly arranged, plus adding drum, guitar and piano parts. “Blackbird is better when a guitarist is playing a George Harrison tune.”

Tickets $20 (under age 16 free), available at Shoppers in Sooke or at the door, or ticketrocket.co or 1-855-842-7575 or box office 101-804 Broughton St, Victoria.

[This article first published on page 5 in the April 20, 2018 in the print/PDF edition of West Shore Voice News]


 

Wednesday, May 2 ~ SOOKE. Sooke Rotary is hosting a dinner event with live and silent auctions.

The Saturday May 12 event (6 pm at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort) is to support their contribution to various community projects both local/regional and international.

The event is on Mother’s Day weekend. With the theme of “making a difference”, Sooke Rotary hopes with this fundraiser to be honouring mothers around the globe.

Tickets $60 for the dinner…  available by calling 250-642-1842.

This year’s dinner auction event is instead of Sooke Rotary hosting a large trade-show style event with business/organization booths at SEAPARC. That was a huge undertaking that taxed the resources of many long-time volunteers.

 


 

Tuesday, May 1 ~ SOOKE/WestShore. At the last minute there has been a change with the Sooke School District (SD62) setup for 2018-2019 bus registration. The online registration system will still open at 9 am on Wednesday, May 2 but routes cannot be chosen by families.

“We have been testing the bus registration system and we realized that it just wasn’t ready in time,” said SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull on Monday afternoon, April 30. “Rather than delaying registration, we decided to stick to our deadlines and use a system that we know works,” he told West Shore Voice News. “The timing is unfortunate but as of late last week, we were trying to determine a possible solution that would work for us,” said Cull.

Parents were advised by email on April 30: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, our new online route selection and registration system will not be ready this year. We want to be able to give you a program that will work seamlessly for you, and at this time, we’re not confident our new system will be able to make registration easier for you.”

As in previous years, SD62 will use the School Cash Online system for school bus registration. Registration is free. Register here http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/

What does this mean for registration and bus route selection?
• Registration will open on time
• Parents will not be able to select bus routes.
• Experienced Transportation staff will place your child(ren) on the best routes as per your home address and school.
• If you register by June 1, you will be notified as to which bus routes your child(ren) will be on before the end of the school year.
• Bus passes will be handed out prior to or during the first week of school in September. Bus passes only apply to middle and secondary school students. Attendance will be taken in the elementary grades.
• Drivers will enforce passes during the first week of school in September.

“Many of our buses and routes fill quickly. Please register close to opening so that you get a spot!,” the school district wrote to parents.

Info and Frequently Asked Questions are presented near the bottom of the Transportation page http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/  or contact the Transportation Department via email – bussing@sd62.bc.ca or call (250) 474-9845.


 

Monday, April 30 ~ SOOKE. An open house to view designs for the new Sooke Library will be hosted on Wednesday, May 16 by the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) Board at Sooke Community Hall, 2037 Shield Rd, downstairs in the dining room area.

The event will run from 5:30 to 8pm. First from 5:30 to 6:30 pm there will be an open session to learn about the designs. Then at 6:30 pm there will be a presentation by library staff, with a question and answer session.

The Sooke Library has been long in coming, even though VIRL says it has been top of their priority list for at least five years.

The District of Sooke purchased land (Lot A) on Wadams Way a few year ago, of which a section will be provided for VIRL to build a 10,000 sq.ft. library.

The current Sooke Library operates out of rented space on Anna Marie Road near Sooke Road. As the Wadams Way area continues to develop (effectively behind — north of — the Evergreen Shopping Centre), it will expand the footprint of what is now considered to be town centre.


Thursday, April 26 ~ SOOKE. A guided walk at Sooke Potholes Regional Park will be held on Saturday, May 5. The ‘walk and talk’ free activity with a CRD Regional Parks naturalist is for learning more about cougars. For ages 5+, from 1 to 2:30 pm.

This nature walk is organized by CRD, who ask that pets be left at home. Starts at the CRD Parking Lot #2 at the Potholes. More: www.crd.bc.ca/parks-events

The BC Environment Ministry offers the following guidelines in the event that you encounter a cougar:

> Stay calm and keep the cougar in view, pick up children immediately. Children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape.
> Make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times. Never run or turn your back on a cougar, sudden movement may provoke an attack.
> If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively, maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noise. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons.
> If a cougar attacks, fight back, convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey, use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes. Use rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings as weapons. You are trying to convince the cougar that you are a threat, and are not prey.

 


April 26, 2018 ~ SOOKE. You can check out the SD62 2018-2019 school bus route for your child ahead of the online registration that starts May 2 here: www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation

There are two new buses and at least one new route starting this fall.

This is the first year that routes are posted ahead of the registration period, so that parents have time to study the routes and plan the ways their child(ren) will get to school each day.

It’s also helpful to the school district to have user-load analysis established before the start of school in September. This helps with decisions about any needed route adjustments, bus driver staffing, fuel cost management, etc

West Shore Voice News provides regular coverage of Sooke School District 62 news and governance. SD62 provides public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca up to Port Renfrew. Schools are located in Langford, Colwood and Sooke.


 

Bus pullout construction on Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) near Laidlaw Rd, April 23, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

 Tuesday, April 24 ~ WEST SHORE / SOOKE.  Construction of the bus pullouts in three locations along Highway 14 (Sooke Road) continues to May 15, section by section.

On either side of the road, the pullouts are being set up in the 4-lane section, at Laidlaw (near the Shell Station), and near Woodlands (just east of entry to town).

Concrete pads (for the second time, after the curb height was first done wrong), bus shelters and electrical/lighting are part of the work by the BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure contractors.

Traffic flow does not seem to be seriously impacted.


 

Monday, April 23. ~ SOOKE. Tonight there will be a District of Sooke Regular Council meeting at 7 pm in council chambers. Meeting agenda: www.sooke.ca

The agenda includes an item that could see Sooke council agree to participate in offering Vancouver-Island-wide inter-municipal business licences. The fee is indicated as $170 (up from the $150 currently charged by the District of Sooke). Local businesses that operate just within Sooke would still have the annual $100 fee level available. Home based businesses are charged $50 per year.

Several years ago the City of Langford brought in a pay-only-once inter-municipal business licence. The fee is $100. The elimination of administration time to collect annual fees was considered to be a positive result. It is also a very business-friendly thing for a municipality to do, to offer a perennial licence.


 

Otter Point Road (west of Sooke) to see $2.5 to $3 million in improvements [West Shore Voice News photo – April 2018]

Sunday, April 15 ~ SOOKE. More funds for road improvements in the Premier’s riding! 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) will upgrade approximately 2 km of Otter Point Road, a key access point for Highway 14 (Sooke Road), and an important alternative route when the highway is closed.

“Over my years as MLA, I have heard many safety concerns from the community about Otter Point Road and many suggestions on how to make it better for people. These upgrades will help keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians moving safely,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca in a news release.

The project and its funding of $2.5 to $3 million was announced by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) Director Mike Hicks on behalf of Premier Horgan at the AGM of the Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) today April 15 at the JdF Services Building in Otter Point.

More intersection upgrades, passing opportunities, improvements for transit, highway shoulder widening and alignment improvements are under development in consultation with the community. Existing lanes will be resurfaced and lanes will be widened wherever possible for cyclist/pedestrian safety, said Ryan Evanoff, Operations Manager, MOTI, at the Otter Point AGM today. The cost to move utility poles is a large part of the project cost, Evanoff told the 30 people in attendance at the AGM. He added that there are no “property take” costs (no private lands will be required or purchased to compete these road improvements).

The proposed improvements will widen and pave approximately 2km of Otter Point Road between the municipal boundary and Kemp Lake Road. Once survey and design work is complete, the ministry will provide an estimated project cost and schedule for the construction of these improvements.

“Community input has been vital to enabling the ministry to get to work quickly on planning work for safety improvements on Otter Point Road, and I look forward to continuing this engagement on more essential upgrades to the Highway 14 corridor,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena.

The Otter Point Road project funding and project work is in addition to the suite of Highway 14 corridor improvements that were first announced in January (i.e. transit pullouts and a queue jump lane, safety signs, new Gillespie Road 2-lane bridge, Sooke River Road intersection upgrade, Muir Creek slow-moving vehicle pullout, and Sombrio rest area).

Work will get underway once the list of specific improvement requirements and possibilities are finalized, said Evanoff.


 

Sunday, April 15 ~ SOOKE. Anyone with a Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) card can now stream thousands of hours of acclaimed TV, from Britain and beyond, free with their library card.

VIRL’s newest digital resource, Acorn TV, offers mysteries, dramas, comedies, and documentaries and 80 exclusive programs.
New shows are added weekly including the latest seasons of series.

The service is at http://virl.bc.ca/digital-films-music-video-games or by using the RB Digital mobile app from the Google or Apple Store.

>> As first published in the April 13, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News


 

Brand new bus pullout on Highway 14 (Sooke Rd) at Laidlaw Road was incorrectly sized. Contractor asked to remove and start again. [West Shore Voice News – April 8, 2018]

Monday, April 9 ~ SOOKE. All six bus pullouts that have been under construction for several weeks along Highway 14 to/from Sooke are now in a temporary phase of deconstruction. Then to be rebuilt. The cost to make revision is about $90,000. About 10 cm in height was incorrectly measured in the height of the bus pullout feature.

The contractor and design team have been asked to identify how this error occurred. The pullouts are to be restored to meet accessibility standards for all transit users.

The necessary road widening for these pullouts has been completed at all three bus pullout locations — 1 pad on each side of the highway at West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road.

The pullouts are for the purpose of allowing buses to move fully out of the way of traffic. It’s one measure that the BC Government feels will help reduce interruptions in vehicle traffic flow on Highway 14, as first announced by Premier John Horgan in Sooke on January 19. Horgan is MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is pretty much the one way in and out of the town of Sooke, population about 13,000. At least 70% of Sooke residents leave Sooke daily for employment and post-secondary in more central regions of Greater Victoria.

The BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) says: “It was discovered that the elevation of the concrete pads for the bus shelters was a bit too high. The discrepancy in height is quite small (less than 10 cm), but there is still potential for the curb to be bumped by the bus bumpers when using the pullouts.”

Installation of bus pullouts and shelters will be done April 16 to 27 along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd). Photo: West Shore Voice News April 2018

“The Ministry explored all possibilities for addressing the concern with the pads, and determined that the best option for getting the pullouts operational as quickly as possible is to remove and rebuild the concrete pads at a lower height,” it was confirmed today by MOTI.

“The bus pullouts are still expected to be completed and ready for use this spring as originally announced.”

Roadside marquee signage shows April 16 to 27 [update at April 15: the project phase now extended to May 15] as the traffic-interruption dates during bus pullout reconstruction.

Those signs have been up for at least two weeks, so this problem only discovered after the six pullouts were completed.

“A number of groups were involved in design and construction, and the ministry continues to work with them to determine the cause of the issue and address the resulting cost increase,” says MOTI.


 

Freshly donated units of blood kept cool in refrigerated trays. [West Shore Voice News photo – March 2018]

Monday April 9. Today there will be a blood donor clinic in Sooke. In the usual location — at the Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd from 12:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Appointments can always be made at www.blood.ca but with this being the day-of, you can be a drop-in. Drop-in’s always welcome.

All the equipment to provide the mobile blood donor clinic is brought to the site, unpacked, set up, utilized, then unpacked and put back into the Canadian Blood Services van.

Units of blood are kept refrigerated during the seven-hour clinic, until put into the refrigerated van for the trip to Vancouver for processing.

Photo: Fresh units of donated blood, kept cool in refrigerated trays at the Colwood blood donor clinic on March 19. [Photo by West Shore Voice News]


 

“Own or rent: caught in between”
Housing Analysis by West Shore Voice News
First published in our April 6, 2018 print/pdf/subscriber edition
=====================================

With the continued price increases in the Greater Victoria housing market combined with stricter mortgage-borrowing requirements, a chunk of would-be buyers are deliberately prevented from becoming homeowners. In the financial world it’s referred to as ‘cooling the housing market’.

That strategy ends up targeting those at the cusp of home ownership … first-time buyers, and the home sellers with lower-end properties that appeal to the entry-level buyers. Individuals and families in that sector are generally the ones who can least afford the costs associated with the risks and overhead costs of dealing with real estate transactions.

Costs include legal fees, Realtor commissions, property purchase tax, and extended dual costs while waiting for homes to sell — like higher rates for vacant home insurance and requiring the cash flow for temporary renting or couch-surfing in the meantime (which contributes to productivity loss and lifestyle stress).

The big chill served to hurt that vulnerable sector of would-be buyers and entry-level homesellers who literally live on the edge of the market — in or out of homeownership, which will it be?

Last fall and in early 2018, as the list price of lower-end homes frequently dropped in order to find buyers who could qualify, those who tried to make the most of having owned a home may have suffered the most.
With qualification for mortgage financing becoming tougher, these previous homeowners often now end up as renters — and usually at the top end of the renter food chain where houses rent for as much as $2,500 per month in Greater Victoria or more. That may be the only portion of the rental market with a relatively higher vacancy rate, due to the price point.

Seeking input from resources like www.readytorentbc.org where their goal is to help with housing stability and successful tenancies, or dealing directly with a property management firm, are two ways to manouevre in the complex waters of housing decisions for those who will not ever, or cannot now, afford to buy.

FEATURE ADVERTISERS [West Shore & Sooke]:
>> George Holmes, Sutton Advantage Property Management – 250-216-4684
>> Clive & Kirsten Greenaway, Greenaway Realty – 778-352-4771


 

Friday, April 6 ~ SOOKE area. The Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Resident and Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) represents about 400 residents in those three small, unincorporated communities west of Sooke. www.opsrra.ca

Their AGM will be held on Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm at the Juan de Fuca Services Building, 3-7450 Butler Rd.

Guest speakers will be: Arnie Campbell about the new Interactive History of Otter Point; Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt Jeff McArthur on community policing; Ryan Evanoff, Operations Manager, Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure with a Highway 14 review; and Mike Hicks, JDFEA Regional Director with various Juan de Fuca Electoral Area updates.


 

Thursday, April 5 ~ SOOKE. Folks in the Sooke community are invited to drop in to chat with Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) on Saturday, April 7 at Shirley Delicious at  2794 Sheringham Point Road in Shirley from 10 am to 11am. And also at The Stick in the Mud Coffee House (6715 Eustace Road, Sooke), from 12 noon to 1 pm.

The NDP MP addressed a rally out front of his constituency office in Saanich on a few weeks ago regarding stopping expansion of the TransMountain pipeline. See page 1 in the March 23 issue of West Shore Voice News.

Sooke has a strong environmental-activist voter base.

MP for the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sookeriding since 2011, Randall Garrison has every year spent a lot of time attending community events in Sooke, in and around his House of Commons attendance in Ottawa and events in the Saanich and Esquimalt areas.


Lots of advance notice on Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd) about bus pullout construction traffic slowdowns set for April 16 to 27. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, April 2 ~ WEST SHORE & SOOKE. The traffic marquee signs are already up on Highway 14 (Sooke Road), advising drivers about bus pullout installations coming up April 16 to 27.

Given the lead time — and that one of the messages on the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure sign board says “thank you for your patience” — it appears the traffic delays are something that commuters and on-road business travelers will want to accommodate in their scheduling.

Three bus pullout locations have been developed since the January 19 Hwy 14 improvements announcement by Premier John Horgan who is MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Hwy 14 runs.

There is a bus pullout almost ready in the four-lane section just west of the West Shore Parkway, and two just east of town as you’re heading westbound into Sooke.


 

Sunday, March 25 ~ WEST SHORE.  What does it matter that the long-time format of holding a monthly Education Committee of the Whole (ECOW) meeting is getting replaced with two new committee meetings each month? 

With only about three months left in the 2017-2018 academic year, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Jim Cambridge sees it as a way to receive more input from stakeholders, including parents. “The board is working on being more transparent,” said Cambridge in his report at the March 13 SD62 board meeting.

The new Education Policy Committee will meet on the first Tuesday each month, the new Resources Committee will be on the second Tuesday, with public board meetings on the third Tuesdays.

Education Policy Committee discussions will include student education and school district policies, in other words “how and why we do our business,” said Cambridge. Resource Committee discussions will include budget, transportation, and capital programs. A few trustees will sit on each committee. Reports and “possible motions” will come forth from committees to the board, which could consolidate any remaining policy threads under Cambridge (2009-2018).

The ECOW on April 10 at Journey Middle School is the last ECOW. ECOWs have also been an opportunity for trustees and the public to tour each school location where the meetings were held, with the principal at each school having that opportunity to showcase the school and the achievements of students and teachers.


 

Emergency Management BC will conduct a test of Alert Ready on March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm PDT.

Tuesday, March 20 ~ BC.  There will be a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System at 1:55 pm PDT on Wednesday March 21, 2018.

The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.

This is part of a Canada-wide Alert-Ready system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.

Please note that text messages will NOT be tested at this time. Testing of wireless alerts will begin in May 2018.

You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators.

Alert Ready is a Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.


 

Friday, March 16 ~ SOOKE SCHOOL DISTRICT. School Bus Routes for SD62 students are now posted for the 2018-2019 school year.  In previous years, the registration process did not pre-identify the available routes, so this is a new level of service to parents and families in their decision-making for Fall 2018.

At this link http://www.sd62.bc.ca/about-sd62/transportation/school-bus-routes/ parents/guardians can find a suitable route/stop and make a note for when registration opens in late April.

How to register:

  • Select your route and stop – 2018/19 School Bus Routes
  • Register online with your route (registration for the 2018/19 school year will open in late April; detailed instructions will be issued mid-April)

Questions about SD62 bussing can be emailed to bussing@sd62.bc.ca


 

Thursday, March 15 ~ SOOKE. Mayor and Council promoted last month that tonight Thursday March 15 from 6:30 to 8 pm they are “opening the doors of Council Chambers to members of the Sooke community”, to meet the current elected representatives.

Questions will begin at 7 pm to “share your thoughts on issues affecting your community”, it said in the District of Sooke release last month.

The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at Sooke Municipal Hall (2nd second floor, 2225 Otter Point Road, access by the Fire Hall entrance). Light refreshments will be available.

Special council meetings are scheduled for March 21 and 22 to deal with the 2018 budget.

On Friday, March 23 there will be a Trails and Greenspaces workshop from 9 to 11:30 am in Council Chambers. There is no longer a formal Parks and Trails Advisory Committee and morning is likely not a convenient time for families and people who commute to work beyond Sooke, but Mayor Maja Tait says she “looks forward to receiving public input and moving forward on recommendations for improving our trails and greenspaces.”

2018 is a municipal election year. The formal campaign period starts in September; the election date is October 20.


 

SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke, a CRD facility. [Photo March 12, 2018 by West Shore Voice News]

Monday, March 12 ~ SOOKE. Sooke to get a recreation boost with SEAPARC upgrade: fitness gym, multi-purpose room

SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke will soon see construction of a new fitness gym and additional multi-purpose space thanks to a $1.24 million Federal Gas Tax Fund grant announced by the CRD on Friday, March 9.

Topped up with $1.5 million from SEAPARC’s reserve funds, the expansion will increase the 51,020 sq ft complex footprint by about 5,150 sqft (3,600 sq ft for the gym and 1,550 for the studio). “This was a shovel-ready project,” says SEAPARC manager Steve Knoke.

“We’ve been saving for four or five years to be in a position to build something,” says SEAPARC Chair and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.  A previous grant application for Canada 150 funding in 2017 was declined.

A few years ago Sooke and Juan de Fuca (JdF) residents provided input about what additional facilities the complex might need and what the design options could include (e.g. one level with expanded footprint, or two levels with elevator).

The average Sooke household pays $307.91 a year toward SEAPARC through property taxes, says Knoke. In JdF the average annual pay-in is $178.19. Each year SEAPARC’s board puts about $350,000 into capital reserves to help fund improvements which have included the roof, pool, skate park and bike park.

The project will take an estimated 18 to 24 months to complete. Many factors come into play regarding the construction schedule. This is early in the planning phase.  SEAPARC says at this point a detailed construction timeline is yet to come.


 

Sunday, March 11 ~ WEST SHORE & SOOKE.  SD62 Board Meeting March 13. [Article first published in the March 9, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]

Coming up at the March 13 Sooke School District (SD62) public board meeting will be a presentation from Canadian Parents for French, a presentation about SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity) by Karen DeCicco, and an approval pitch for a trip by Belmont music students heading to Calgary in May.

SD62 is considered among the more innovative school districts. This month some more new courses are up for board approval, including Robotics 11/12, English Inquiry 12, and Electronic Music 10. Revisions to the 2018-2019 school calendar are up for approval. On April 26, 2016 the Board of Education had approved calendars for the next three years.

The annual approval of school fees is up for discussion (that includes the student activity fee of $20 for student council, student ID, locks and first aid), an optional $55 yearbook fee, sport/dance/arts academies (e.g. Hockey $1,585; Baseball/Softball each $685, dance costume fee $150). Rugby travel tournament fees and insurance costs are not yet listed. Activities outside the building for Active Living and PE 11/12 classes come at a cost.

Environmental/outdoor education activities outside the building require a fee, as do woodwork and metalwork consumable products for projects taken home. Uniforms for cheerleaders, football team registrations, and a general ‘athletic participation’ fee are on the list. Food Safe courses are offered through SD62 at a fee. Workbooks primarily for math and science can be used in the classroom if not written in, but otherwise carry a fee of $5 to $25 if written in, or are lost/damaged. Principals may use discretion for low-income family situations when it comes to fees.

Upcoming events being attended by Trustees and/or senior staff include High Ground: Communities for All conference (March 23 & 24, Vancouver) and the BC School Trustees Association AGM with a theme of Working Together for Successful Student Transition (April 26-29, Richmond).

Last month a significant motion was passed by the board to waive School Site Acquisition Charges for the Knox Vision Society’s affordable housing project in Sooke (see March 2, 2018 West Shore Voice News, pg 2). Some followup discussion about the impact of that decision might come up.


Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

Wednesday, February 28 ~ WEST SHORE.  Exclusive – by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News.

There have been difficult decisions made by Sooke School District 62 (SD62) over the years, not the least of which was cutbacks affecting classrooms and teachers a few years ago due to insufficient government funding for a fast-growing school district. Movement to a board decision on large issues occurs over weeks and months, sometimes years.

But last night’s SD62 board meeting decision about whether to waive school tax fees to support an affordable housing project in Sooke brought out more discomfort for trustees and senior staff than seen for any deliberations in the past six years. Even the most complex of budget issues in the past did not have so much said, and so much left unspoken.

The issue was whether SD62 — which is responsible to deliver public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca — would waive school taxes for the Knox Vision Society 42-unit apartment-unit housing complex in Sooke. In terms of dollars, the request would mean a savings of $23,436 for the Knox Vision Society, or about 2% of their construction budget. That might seem like a drop in the bucket for a large project, but for SD62 that is money not going to education, which is the mandate of a school district board.

SD62 Treasurer Harold Cull explained to the board that if they were to approve the waiver, that the $23,436 would be that much less in School Site Acquisition Charges. That’s money for buying land upon which to build new schools (not directly out of classroom budgets).

Fast-forward, the motion to waive the fees did pass — Knox will get the $23,436. But it was a tight vote, with trustees Wendy Hobbs, Dianna Seaton and Margot Swinburnson voting against the motion (voting for the motion were SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Vice-Chair Bob Phillips, Neil Poirier and Denise Riley). Overall, the opposing views were that education dollars should remain within serving the direct needs of providing schools and education. “Stick to your knitting” was how Trustee Seaton put it at one point. Additionally, Cendra Beaton (rep for Canadian Parents for French) said the decision would not go over well with parents in the west shore.

What wasn’t said around the board table — but spoke loud and clear through uncomfortable body language and winding pre-vote commentary — is that there was something ‘off’ about this request from a church society-turned-developer. Something didn’t sit right with the request itself, let alone the requirement to respond. One trustee noted that the District of Sooke has openly and strongly supported the affordable housing project as part of helping their community (Sooke waived about $171,000 in development cost charges toward the Knox project), that other municipalities (noting Langford) and other affordable housing developers (noting Pacifica Housing) have not requested assistance from SD62. The BC Government recently announced its commitment of $5.5 million toward the project.

Trustee Margot Swinburnson explained her dilemma: “Last night was uncomfortable for me personally. The main reason why is that I wholeheartedly support the build by Knox. But I could not ethically support it as a school trustee, guarding our funds for education. So I was very torn about it,” she told West Shore Voice News afterward.

It is only recently that SD62 and other growing school districts have enjoyed the relief from new BC NDP government funding to hire more teachers and relieve other ‘cost pressures’ in the education delivery system. The scars of working through tough-times budgets left a mark on senior staff and most trustees that reminded them of how every dollar counts.

If it can be said that the dollars toward the Knox project (which started as a seniors building then shifted to a broader affordable housing mission statement) will truly help more families with school-age children better afford to live in Sooke, there is some justification for the trustees who voted in favour of the motion. But there was no discussion about requiring accountability for the receipt of funds, such as requiring a report on how many families with children will be ending up in the larger suites (the building will have 15 1-bdrm units, 24 2-bedroom units, and three 3-bedroom units).

Yes, people and communities need affordable housing, but this board truly struggled with whether funding support for that should come from education funds. On top of that, Cull noted that the NDP Government’s new Medical Services Tax now being levied on corporations and entities with payrolls over $500,000 (like the school board) will likely produce a 1% increase in staffing costs for 2018-2019.

Money is a reality in education. It takes money to buy land for schools, and of course it takes money to pay teachers and supply the classrooms with all the many things it takes to deliver the modern curriculum. The February 27 decision at SD62’s evening board meeting is showing the tip of the iceberg over how educators, government and probably now also parents are starting to explore the many aspects of how affordability — in this case housing and education — are playing out in the financial decisions that underpin everything. ~ MPB


 

Tuesday, February 27 ~ WEST SHORE.  SD62: a full agenda for their February 27 board meeting.

At their board meeting coming up on Tuesday evening February 27, Sooke School District 62 (SD62) school trustees will again visit their 2019-2019 budget, as well as firming up their approach to bus routes and transportation registration for Fall 2018.

The board is likely to finalize their decision as to how SD62 will respond to a housing grant funding request from the Knox Centre Affordable Housing Project in Sooke.

New courses are added to school curricula on a fairly regular basis. Up for approval are some new course areas including Genocide Studies 12, Comics as Communication 10/11/12, and Outdoor Education 10.

A motion on the agenda sees the board not increasing their Trustee Remuneration and Professional Development amounts, Chair and Vice-Chair Stipends, and per diem and mileage rates next year.

The meeting is at 7 pm at the SD62 administration office, 3143 Jacklin Road, Langford.

>> Article first published in the February 23, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News | www.westshorevoicenew.com


 

Red blood cell inventory across Canada is critically low for some blood types [Stats at Feb 16, 2018]

Saturday, February 24 ~ Sooke. Get that blood pumping! Donors needed.

Three locations in the west shore now host regular blood donor clinics. Canadian Blood Services regularly sets up their mobile clinics at Church of the Advent in Colwood, at Royal Bay Secondary in the newest area of Colwood, and at the Sooke Legion.

On BC Family Day, Monday February 12, the Sooke clinic saw a strong turnout. Of the 99 pre-booked donors, 85 attended, plus two walk-ins — and 56 re-booked for a future clinic. The target was to collect 67 units of blood… 69 were collected, a 103% success.

Supply Levels

  • The need for blood and donors continues to be urgent. Inventory is at concerning levels after a difficult winter for collections. Winter interruptions include weather, flu, and the holiday season.
  • “As a result, we’re asking 35,000 donors to step up across Canada to ensure we continue to meet patient needs leading up to spring break,” says Ann Chabert, Canadian Blood Services Territory Manager for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
  • “As partners in our work for Canadian hospital patients, we are encouraging people to come in to donate blood at any of our clinics,” Chabert says. Visit www.blood.ca to find out about clinic times and to book appointments, or call 1-888-2-DONATE.
  • As of February 16, there was only a 2.8 day supply of the most common blood type, O+ (considered to be an emergency low level). Rarer blood types, including AB+ and AB-, had a 10+ day supply of red blood cell inventory (considered excess).

Upcoming Clinics

  • The next local clinic is on Monday March 19 at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave in Colwood (12 noon to 7 pm). As of February 20, the donor target for that day was 101 units (1 unit/donor); about 72 available spots for that Westshore clinic are still available.
  • Clinics after that date come up after Easter — on Mon April 9 at Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd 12:30-7:30pm (time changed from the previous 11:30am-6:30 pm), and on Mon April 23 at Royal Bay Secondary, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way (9am to 4pm).

The Royal Bay component

  • In spring 2016, a large delegation of Royal Bay students attended the clinic at Church of the Advent. “It was so successful that the school decided to host a blood drive on site at their school,” says Chabert.
  • In May 2017, Royal Bay hosted their first blood drive as part of their Graduation legacy. Grad student Jaimey Hamilton (a three-time cancer survivor and recipient of blood and stem cells) “inspired her peers and ultimately the entire school,” says Chabert.
  • The public is welcome to attend the Royal Bay clinic. To book a spot, call 1-888-2-DONATE or go to www.blood.ca . Belmont Secondary students might participate in that blood drive and shuttle students from their school in Langford over to Royal Bay.

>> Article first published in the February 23, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
>> Tables: Red Blood Cell Inventory in Canada as of Feb 16, 2018 – volumes and level of need [stats by Canadian Blood Services]


 

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to slow down and drive carefully. [West Shore Voice News photo – 2017]

Friday, February 23 ~ A ‘weather event’ has been predicted for the South Vancouver Island area for Friday evening, February 23. Wet heavy snowfall began mid-afternoon.

“Flurries will come and go tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night,” says Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. Expect up to 5 cm of snowfall is expected across the area, with as much as 10 cm of snow on roads in certain areas especially higher elevations.

The forecast indicates the weather front clearing by Sunday morning.

“This event may have negative impacts on driving conditions in some areas,” says Mainroad. Given that many drivers in this region are unfamiliar with winter driving conditions, all drivers are asked to slow down, drive carefully and use additional caution when driving near road maintenance crews.

Mainroad 24 Hour Emergency Hotline: 1-877-391-7310


Thursday, February 22 ~ SOOKE. Foodies, seedies and gardeners come to Sooke Seedy Saturday each February, this year being the 9th annual. It’s on February 24, from 10 am to 3 pm at Sooke Community Hall, 2037 Shields Rd.

Organized by Sooke Food CHI, the one-day seed and local food growing event showcases seed and plant vendors, a seed exchange table, plus displays featuring information on everything from composting to keeping bees, plus workshops, a Kids Zone, and raffles (proceeds this year to Harmony Sooke Project).

Admission by donation ($5 is recommended).

A healthy lunch is available to purchase downstairs, hosted by the Sooke Fall Fair that supports family farms in the region.

Plants and more, for sale and discovery, at Sooke Seedy Saturday [archive photo 2016, West Shore Voice News]

“Our local Seedy Saturday is a fun and exciting community event that kicks off spring and gardening,” says Sooke Food CHI board member Anita Wasiuta.

Sooke Food CHI is a local non-profit food security group working to create vibrant, sustainable food systems for the Sooke region. Volunteers always welcome. www.sookefoodchi.ca


 

Wednesday evening, February 21 ~ West Shore & Sooke. Yes, it’s snowing out there.

About 5 to 10 cm of snowfall in total is what’s in the forecast. Looks like the wet heavy snowflake type — started mid-afternoon and will continue through the evening.

While road crews do get out there to do sanding and application of salt to the roads, driving with extra care (and slower) is a reasonable thing to do. Not everyone in this region is experienced with winter driving, and likely the roads will be slippery and/or visibility can be restricted when snow is falling.

The weather forecast is for temperatures to reach about 4 degrees Celcius on Thursday, so a lot of that snow will melt. Forecasts indicate more snow on Friday.


 

Monday, February 19 ~ Sooke. Work is underway toward the construction of the new Sooke library on Wadams Way, it was announced by the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board today.

To date there has been completion of the land survey, geotechnical, and environmental work on the municipally-owned land (‘Lot A’) . Consultants can now finalize the site plan.

VIRL’s architect is currently working on the design for the new library building, a process to which public input was invited in the spring of 2017. A second public meeting will be held once the design has been set and is ready for public viewing, says David Carson, Divisional Manager, Corporate Communications and Strategic Initiatives, VIRL.

“Our goal remains to have shovels in the ground this spring and for the new library to open approximately a year later,” says Carson . “In the meantime, the lease is in place at the current branch until December 2019 to ensure that residents of Sooke do not go without library services,” he said.


 

Sunday, February 18 ~ WEST SHORE. Tight housing market increases demand for property management specialty services |  by Mary P Brooke ========

As the rental crunch in Greater Victoria continues at a fever pitch, there is even more of a demand for well-maintained and well-managed rental properties that are priced right for both renter and landlord.

Taking this long-term approach to generating quality on the supply side, property management specialist George Holmes focuses on building a stock of rental opportunities within single family homes and apartment buildings.

Holmes deals directly with property owners to determine the best fit for their property as part of the booming rental market, particularly in the west shore and Sooke.

For strata complexes, Holmes under Sutton manages the financial operation and maintenance for the owners under the Strata Property Act.

Working out of the Sutton Advantage Property Management office in Saanich for the last seven years, in total Holmes has over 30 years property management experience including in the non-profit housing market. He has seen the west shore market mature in ways that can benefit by his experience in meeting the needs of his clients in balance with market conditions. Insightful and resourceful, Holmes takes pride in his work.

This article first published in the February 16, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News


 

About 900 BC Hydro customers are without power west of Sooke this morning, February 18.

Sunday, February 18 ~ Vancouver Island. Strong winds and snowfall throughout the night have caused extensive damage and multiple outages to customers in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro says their crews are working in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.

There were strong winds overnight, continuing into this morning, along with moderate snowfall which is already melting mid-morning.

As of 10 am this Sunday morning, about 4,000 BC Hydro customers on South Vancouver Island are without power. There are 10 listed outages, showing almost 2,700 customers without power west of Admirals Road in an area that clusters Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, Saanich and View Royal.

West of Sooke up to Port Renfrew, about 900 customers are without power (which is a significant number in a sparsely populated area).

There are clusters of outages on the Gulf Islands, as well as in North Saanich. A handful of customers are without power in Saanich.

Over 8,000 customers are without power on North Vancouver Island, with over 9,700 without power in the Lower Mainland/Sunshine Coast.


 

Thursday, February 15 ~ SOOKE. In the wake of last month’s tsunami alert, there will be an Emergency Preparedness Open House in Sooke at Sooke municipal hall (upstairs), 2225 Otter Point Road on Tuesday February 20 from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.

Learn about emergency preparedness, bring questions and meet the Sooke Emergency Support Services (ESS) team. “A proactive community is a resilient community” says ESS coordinator Rick McLeod.

“It’s up to you… are you ready?”, says McLeod. “Know the risks, get a kit, and make a plan.”

On January 23 there was a tsunami alert for most of the west coast of Vancouver Island following a 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Alaska. One of the most important things learned by both residents and municipalities is that people need to know whether or not their location is in a low-lying area that would be affected by tsunami waves or the subsequent flooding.

For many years, ESS sessions held by the Sooke Fire Dept have stressed having an emergency kit in home, car and workplace. As well, the awareness to be gained about a tsunami that would follow a major quake in this region is that debris carried onshore by waves is a significant danger.


Scott Stinson, incoming SD62 Superintendent (starting Aug 2018)

Thursday, February 15 ~ LANGFORD.  Today the SD62 Board of Education has announced their selection Scott Stinson as their new Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer of School District 62, effective August 1, 2018.  Stinson will replace Jim Cambridge who has been Superintendent since 2009. Cambridge will wrap up his 36-year education career in August 2018.

“We’re really excited to welcome Scott back to our school district,” says SD62 Board Chair Ravi Parmar. “The Board of Education collaborated extensively with different groups to find the best fit for our rapidly growing and successful school district. We’re confident Scott will be a great leader as we continue to build on the successes of both the students and the district.”

SD62 says it conducted a nation-wide search, mostly through an internal education system advertising network.

Jim Cambridge, SD62 Superintendent [West Shore Voice News photo 2017]

For more than 30 years, Stinson has worked in education throughout the Victoria area, including SD62. Previously, he was Principal at David Cameron Elementary and also SD62’s District Principal of Student Support Services before moving to his current role as Assistant Superintendent with Saanich School District 63.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to accept this position and I’m really happy to return to SD62,” says Stinson. “I can’t wait to work with the Board of Education, staff, Aboriginal and partner groups as well as stakeholders to continue offering students rich learning opportunities in such an innovative school district.”

Back in October 2017, current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge told West Shore Voice News that modernization of the school system as well as acquiring land and buildings will need to be the focus of SD62 for the next decade or so.

SD62 delivers public education in the fast-growing urbanized area of south Vancouver Island encompassing Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Sooke, as well as the rural areas of Metchosin and Juan de Fuca.

Cambridge says that teaching now recognizes that students learn in a variety of ways, and that teaching is now about facilitating, not the old lecture-style.


 

Monday, February 12 ~ BC. Today February 12 is BC Family Day, making for a 3-day long weekend. Pretty much everyone appreciates a day off in cold dreary February, mid-winter!

“BC Family Day is a day for people to spend time with their loved ones and join in community celebrations. To make sure Family Day events are accessible to everyone, the BC government has partnered with the BC Recreation and Parks Association to fund free family-friendly activities and events in communities around the province,” it was announced in a statement from Premier John Horgan this weekend.

Many rec centres in BC are offering special deals and admissions. Admission is free all day at SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke today, within Horgan’s home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca.

“It’s part of our commitment to make life better and more affordable for you and your family. Take some time today to have fun in your community, and have a happy BC Family Day!”

Starting next year, British Columbia’s Family Day will be moved to the third Monday in February “so families across the country can celebrate together”, it was announced by BC Premier John Horgan ahead of this Family Day long weekend.
Family Day was established in British Columbia in 2013 (several years after most provinces already had a Family Day in February) following a consultation process that had recommended the holiday be on either the second or third Monday of February. The government of the day decided on the second Monday, even though it was inconsistent with other Canadian provinces and the United States.

At the time, the main reason for choosing the second Monday of February was given as input from the winter sport industry, particularly the ski industry which appreciated packing in business from BC residents and locals, leaving room for Family Day visitors the following weekend from many other parts of Canada where Family Day is on the third Monday of February.

In announcing the change for 2019, Premier Horgan said Family Day will now be better aligned for businesses and families. “Moving Family Day is the right thing to do for businesses small and large, and is better for families who may be spread out across the country,” said Premier Horgan. “This gives families an opportunity to schedule and spend more time with loved ones from other provinces.”


 

Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

Friday, February 9 ~ SOOKE.   The construction of two affordable housing projects that are already well underway was the packaged-up subject of a BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing news release this week.

The commonality is that both projects are in the fast-growing west shore (more specifically in Premier John Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca home riding) where affordable rentals are sorely needed, and that the BC government has provided funding support to both.

This is along with the now oft-repeated message that the Province is developing “a comprehensive provincial housing strategy to make housing more affordable for British Columbians”. And, since taking office in July 2017 saying that the BC government “has set a target to build, in partnership, 114,000 new units of affordable housing throughout BC”.

Both projects are located on busy main roads near bus transit routes and within walking distance to retail and other services.

The Oak Park redevelopment project in Langford at 616 Goldstream Avenue received a provincial injection of $7.5 million toward the two-phase construction of 73 rental units (61 apartments and 12 townhomes) to be operated by Pacifica Housing. The expected monthly rent levels are: Studio $800; 1 bdrm $1,020; 2 bdrm $1,200; 3 bdrm $1,550; 4 bdrm $1,700.

The project in Sooke at 2110 and 2120 Church Road (corner of Wadams Way) has received $5.35 million in BC funding. This long-planned project was first designed by M’akola Housing in 2014 for seniors but the Knox Vision Society in 2016 opened up their parameters, intending to appeal to all low-income age groups and broaden their access to funding. They are approaching CRD and SD62 among others, for additional funding. The District of Sooke has been supportive throughout the Knox Church’s process with this project. The expected monthly rent levels are: 1 bdrm $875; 2 bdrm $1,100; 3 bdrm $1,300.


Sunday, February 4 ~ WEST SHORE.
Real estate stats show burgeoning sales on west shore
by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News

Langford and Sooke together saw 62.3% of the Greater Victoria area’s house sale transactions volume in January 2018. In Langford the raw average sale price was about the same as Colwood, but Sooke prices were a full $200,000 lower.

The average sale price of a single family home in Langford last month was $712,247 compared to Sooke at $511,437. The overall sale price of homes across Greater Victoria was $925,715.

Note, these numbers are determined using the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB)’s own sales figures. They do vary from VREB’s HPI numbers, which are data-adjusted based on a set of criteria considered impactful on the value of a home (e.g. proximity to transportation, schools and services).

The numbers:
WEST SHORE: Single Family Homes Jan 2018
(averages of actual sale prices)
> Colwood $721,774 (8 sales / 8.6% of GV sales)
> Langford $712,247 (32 sales / 34.4% of GV sales)
> Sooke $511,437 (26 sales / 27.9% of GV sales)
> Greater Victoria (GV) $925,715 (93 sales)

The inventory of properties for sale in Greater Victoria has been low in 2016-2017 — 1,491 active listings at Jan 31, 2018 virtually the same as a year earlier (1,493 at Dec 31, 2016).

The number and range of properties for sale in 2013-2015 was higher, but dwindled as recessionary recovery saw homeowners selling properties (and downsizing) as a way to liberate cash and take advantage of increasing house prices. In Dec 2013 there were 4,772 properties for sale, down to 3,489 in Dec 2014, and sagging further to 2,517 in Dec 2015.


 

Wednesday, January 31 ~ Sooke. Kindergarten Registration for families served by the Sooke School District 62 (SD62) continues this week through Friday February 2.

Registration for the 2018-2019 academic year opened online at 8 am on Monday January 29 at www.sd62.bc.ca/schools/kindergarten

This is for children who will be age 5 by December 31, 2018.

Registration may also be done in person at the SD62 administration office in Langford at 3143 Jacklin Road.

SD62 serves families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Metchosin, Highlands, and in Juan de Fuca as far as Port Renfrew. The SD62 school district serves what is now the fastest growing region in BC (other than Surrey on the mainland).

In particular, housing demand is considered to be relatively affordable in Langford and Sooke, which is drawing more people to the west side of Vancouver Island.


 

The new municipal road called Division Avenue will be open as a detour through the Belmont Market construction site. [Photo: West Shore Voice News, January 2018]

Tuesday, January 30 ~ LANGFORD. Jacklin Road detour during Belmont Market construction, starts February 13.

For those who commute regularly through Langford, from Sooke Road over to the Langford core, this one is for you!

A new municipal road called Division Avenue will soon be open for use through what is now the construction site for the new Belmont Market (on the old Belmont school site). The City of Langford will issue a Traffic Advisory with the exact date, but as a commuter, you’ll know!

Closing off a section of Jacklin Road between Terlane and Jenkins (the section you’d take from Sooke Road to reach Westshore Town Centre), is still on track for Tuesday February 13.

The closure will be in both directions, for about four months (or maybe to July 13 as posted on marquee signs this week). After that, some improvements will be done on Jenkins Avenue, but that work can be completed with single-lane alternating traffic.

The City and the contractor are on track to contact residents who are directly affected. That would also include the Sooke School District 62 administration office, just a stone’s throw beyond the section of Jacklin that will be closed.
“Residents living in the closure area will be given full continued access however the general public will not be allowed into the construction zone. Businesses will also be notified in the general region of the construction works (e.g. North of Jenkins Avenue and south of Division Avenue),” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

Division Avenue will be opened to the public before Jacklin Road is closed so that traffic can use this as a detour.

The road closure is to best enable efficient and safe completion of a large amount of construction works slated for this section of road including: • Watermain replacement by CRD Water • Installation of a new sewer main • Completion of sidewalks on the east side of Jacklin Rd (the west side of Jacklin Rd sidewalks would be installed as development proceeds on that side of the road) • Bikelane completion on both sides of Jacklin Rd • A new signal light at Terlane Ave leading to a controlled entry point to the Belmont Market property • Landscaping • Transit stops .

The road improvements were a requirement of rezoning for the Belmont Market site and are being paid for by the Developer.

“If the road were not closed for this work it would likely take twice as long or more to complete the work and would prove very challenging,” says Mahovlich.

The closure does not go south as far as the Galloping Goose. It stops short (just north of) the SD62 school board office. There is a project map on the www.langford.ca website.

“I believe we will be impacted when Jacklin is worked on,” says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. People will need to take the detour. “Langford is leading that awareness piece as they are responsible for managing traffic flow.”

Other ways to get into or through Langford during the Jacklin Road interruption are of course the new West Shore Parkway and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The City has been doing pothole repairs on Jacklin and Jenkins. With cold weather and snow the potholes were opening back up and proving to be an ongoing maintenance challenge.


 

Saturday, January 27 ~ SOOKE. Community Grant applications will be heard by District of Sooke council at a Special Council Meeting on Monday February 5 in Council chambers. 7 pm.


 

Tsunami Warning on Tuesday, January 23 after 8.0 quake in Alaska at 1:32 am.

Tuesday, January 23 ~ WEST COAST / VANCOUVER ISLAND. An 8.1 Earthquake has occurred south of Alaska at 01:32am.  As of 4:12 am the TSUNAMI WARNING WAS CANCELLED: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/tsunami-warning-coastal-areas-of-bc-jan-23-2018-at-0135am/

==== Previous post:A Tsunami Warning has been issued for all coastal areas of British Columbia.  It is believed the waves generated may impact low lying areas under 20 metres.

Follow the instructions of authorities in your area. Do not call police or 911 for updates. Visit Emergency Preparedness and municipal websites as well as Twitter for updates.Minimize phone use in affected areas. For further information go to the emergency management British Columbia website at https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

No evacuations for Sooke are ordered at this time, says Sooke Fire Rescue. Fire crews are patrolling Whiffin Spit (CLOSED) and Billings Spit.District of Tofino has advised residents to evacuate to higher ground.

The tsunami is expected to arrive at Tofino at 4:40 am Pacific Time. See Twitter: @TofinoCA

Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop emailed out “this is not a drill”.

The National Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning that includes the following zones of coastal British Columbia:• Zone A – the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.• Zone B – the Central Coast and Northwest Vancouver Island Coast, including Kitimat, Bella Coola and Port Hardy.• Zone C – the Outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.• Zone D – the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.“

At this time it is believed that a tsunami has been generated. The tsunami may impact low lying coastal areas in these zones. Local governments in these zones are urged to activate their emergency plans and immediately begin evacuation of identified areas at risk for tsunami impacts,” said Chief Dunlop.

No other zones of coastal British Columbia are at risk.The Township of Esquimalt is monitoring the tsunami warning situation and are setting up a reception centre in case evacuation is necessary – details to follow.


 

Sunday, January 21 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Extreme winds have caused extensive damage and multiple outages for BC Hydro customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, says the utility on their website this morning.

At present, about 65,000 customers throughout the south coast and island areas are without power. At 9 am, BC Hydro said that it expects outages to increase until the winds decrease.

“Restoration efforts are being coordinated in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.”

On Vancouver Island, as of 9 am this morning:
> Vancouver Island South – 22 outages: 14,951 customers without power
> Vancouver Island North – 32 outages: 11,990 customers without power

Hard hit with the most customers out of power are the Gulf Islands including Galiano, Mayne, Ganges, Pender and Saturna.

In Langford/View Royal 764 customers are without power in the Atkins/Millwoods/Strandlund area. As of 9 am there are no outages in the Sooke region.

Other areas on the current list of outages: Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Victoria (Fairfield/James Bay 702 customers without power) and Oak Bay/Saanich (2,072 customers without power).

To report an outage, call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile or report it online at www.bchydro.com


 

Hwy 14 road improvements announcement January 19 by Premier John Horgan in Sooke, introduced by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, January 19 ~ SOOKE. Premier John Horgan today announced ‘a start’ for the process of improving the travel conditions on Highway 14 (Sooke Road). With a $10 million expenditure in the mix, Horgan’s announcement kicked off the first of multiple phases of safety, transit and congestion improvements for highway that serves as an essential commuter corridor for residents of Sooke, as well as tourists who contribute to economic development of the Sooke area.  Specifically that will be:

  • Three bus pullouts on both sides of Highway 14 at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road
  • A bus queue jump lane at Jacklin Road
  • New safety signs at three locations (Kangaroo Road, Gillespie Road, and Parkland Road)
  • A slow-moving vehicle pullout eats of Muir Creek, between Sooke and French Beach
  • A new rest area at the Sombrio lookout
  • A new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road (at Roche Cove), which is an important alternative route to Highway 14 (when vehicle accidents and other incidents on the main highway block normal through-traffic)
  • Intersections currently without lighting that will receive new LED lights are: Awsworth Rd, Humpback/Woodruff (including one at the bus stop), Manzer, Laidlaw, Parkland and Impala.
  • Intersections that will have new LED lights installed to augment current lighting are: Kangaroo, Connie, Gillespie, Glintz/Polymede, Ludlow, Goodridge (with upgrade to the fire signal), Harbourview, Saseenos, Woodland, Winnipeg, Saseenos Elementary School (4 additional lights including two directly over each side of the crosswalk), Sooke River/Lazzar/Park-and-Ride.

At the Hwy 14 improvements announcement in Sooke, January 19 (from left): Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton (back row), Langford Mayor Stew Young, and Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Horgan has a longstanding association with ‘all things Sooke’ — not only as the MLA since 2005 for what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding (including Sooke to Port Renfrew), but having spent a lot of recreational time in the area.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has long sought improvements to Highway 14, as a way to help connect the rugged seaside forested area of Sooke to the services and growth of Langford which is now the fastest-growing city in BC (other than Surrey in the Lower Mainland). For Young this announcement was a good start, in that his vision for the west shore has included better road accessibliity to Sooke for about 25 years now.

“It’s better to put money into infrastructure than into more studies,” Mayor Stew Young told West Shore Voice News during the roadside media announcement today.  Noting the housing affordability of Sooke and similarly Langford, Mayor Young said that better, safer travel on Highway 14 will help link the two communities together to build a great community and a greater economy. The scale is good here. It help businesses. As Sooke grows, you have to make sure your construction keeps up with that. I know there’s going to be more coming, there might be widening. Today we’re hearing that safety and lighting improvements are first.

Langford’s Mayor was glad to hear today’s announcement. “Give them a year or two and see how much funding they have for more. Economic development is important here in the west shore region,” said Stew Young.

BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) chatted with youth during the Hwy 14 road improvements announcement [West Shore Voice News photo]

At the podium with Premier Horgan was Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who said Sooke and the surrounding region is connected by this single highway. “Residents and politicians and alike have been asking for safety improvements for commuters, transit users, pedestrians and everyone else who relies on this.”

Tait said that young people and retirees are being attracted to Sooke as a growing community “with proximity to large urban centres that afford us access to diverse employment opportunities, health care, educational programs and the like”. She acknowledged that Sooke relies on Highway 14 “to connect us to the west shore and Victoria.”

Horgan says his government’s budget in February will include more announcements for improvements on Highway 14, more to do with actual work on the road itself (in addition to the lighting and public transit-related announcements made today).

Over 100 people showed up for the rainy-day announcement held at 1 pm at the Park-and-Ride across from Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) on Highway 14 at Lazzar Road. In addition to politicians (including members of Sooke council, Langford Council, and BC Transit) and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, there were many active members of the Sooke community including business and education leaders.

Two youth from EMCS said the impact of road closures on Highway 14 when there are accidents has meant that teachers cannot sometimes get to the school, and that when fellow students are injured on the road it affects the entire school community.


 

Presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. The International Student Program is a significant revenue-generator for Sooke School District 62 (SD62). Students come to study for one or more years of public education in the west shore, paying for tuition and accommodation.

In a presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger (at an Education Committee of the Whole meeting) addressed trustees, staff, and stakeholder reps about international students, ELL/English Language Learner students (formerly ESL) who stay as  part of the community, and overall supports for welcoming.

Schwertfeger — who most recently has travelled to Switzerland to promote the west shore as a progressive place to get an English-speaking education — said students are presently in SD62 schools from about 20 countries. Most of the students attending in SD62 are from China (about 30-40%), Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. There are also students visiting from Vietnam, Russia, Austria, and Australia. The greatest number of International Students are in Langford-area schools “which speaks to housing availability”, said Schwertfeger.

There are 40 visiting students at Belmont Secondary, 20 at Ruth King Elementary, and several at Spencer Middle School. SD62 aims to balance the numbers from a range of originating countries. Most International Students come for language development but also from English-speaking countries like Australia for a short-term cultural experience. Vietnamese students are often here long-term, for 2 to 4 years. The number of Russian students has increased recently and more are coming from Iran.

The program team has visited about 30 different countries. Agents and partners to do most of the presentations, while SD62 staff personally attend areas of “significant potential”. In Switzerland “the appetite to come to Canada is significant compared to going to the US,” said Schwertfeger.

Last fall about 1,600 participants attended her presentations in Switzerland over two days.  Another aspect of the International Program is “moving to an intercultural mindset” with cultural diversity supports offered to teachers, staff, students and community.

SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull says there are 280 full-time-equivalent International Students in SD62 this year.  Tuition per student is $12,500 per academic year for all school levels.


Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. Opportunity for Parent & Community Input (SD62 – Langford, Colwood Sooke).

While discussion of the Strategic Plan was kept tight and short at SD62’s Education Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday evening, January 9, the document itself is fairly extensive, as will be the impact of its implementation throughout schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke over the next several years.

Parents of students attending SD62 schools will have received an email in recent weeks, asking for their input. Busy families — if they haven’t already — might want to at least read the Strategic Plan document to be up to speed with the ideas, whether or not they have the time or inclination to send an email with comments.

You can see and download the SD62 Strategic Plan at http://www.sd62.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2017/12/Strategic-Plan-Version-1-as-at-December-2017.pdf

Comments may be emailed to info@sd62.bc.ca and the deadline is now end of the day Thursday, January 18 (extended from January 12). The board could approve the Strategic Plan as soon as January 23.

The current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge will be retiring at the end of July 2018, with a new (yet to be hired) Superintendent filling his much-accomplished shoes. The current board is comprised mostly of long-term trustees, some of whom may not run again in October 2018.

The Strategic Plan is in part a legacy document to try and ensure that the many accomplishments of the 2014-2018 board in particular will be preserved into the future.

SD62 is the fastest-growing school district in BC, with about 500 more students expected to register into schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke each year during the next five years.

Summary SD62 STRATEGIC PLAN
> Vision: honour student voice and choice through engaging, purposeful and experiential learning in a safe and respectful community
> Values: Relationships, Choice,
> Respect, Integrity, Trust, Safety
> Mission: to develop informed, literate and resilient citizens and sustain a safe, respectful and responsive learning community.
> Goals: Learning | Engagement | Growth


 

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) westbound to Sooke. {West Shore Voice News photo – January 2018]

Sunday, January 14 ~ SOOKE.  BC Hydro will be doing some roadside work on Highway 14 (Sooke Road) this week, which they anticipate will cause some traffic delays.

As Highway 14 is pretty much the only way in and out of Sooke, the pre-advisory is helpful to commuters who rely on the provincial highway. Work will be done 9 am to 3 pm on two days:

  • On January 16 it is pole work that would include equipment replacement in the 5500/5600-block stretch (Goodridge Road to Laidlaw Road),  expect delays 9am to 3pm.
  • On January 18 the work is a pole replacement. Expect delays just east of Kangaroo Road, 9am to 3pm. Traffic through the work zones will be reduced to single lane, alternating traffic, says the utility’s Vancouver Island – Sunshine Coast Community Relations office.

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) eastbound toward Langford. [West Shore Voice News photo – January 2018]

These are just two portions of the poorly lit, poorly sight-lined provincial Hwy 14 where vehicle accidents frequently occur.

A few months ago, Premier John Horgan (MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding through which Sooke Road intersects) sent back a traffic plan to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for considerable revision because while it addressed bus transit and overall driver awareness issues, it lacked solutions for real problems that face motorists on Highway 14.

 


 

Kelz Bakery at 6716 West Coast Road in Sooke.

Sunday, January 14 ~ SOOKE. Kelz Bakery at 6716 West Coast Road in Sooke will be closed January 16 to February 12 for some holiday time.

Shop owners Kelly and Yvonne will be opening their popular bakery and coffee shop again just in time for your Valentine’s Day treats!


 

Friday, January 12 ~ SOOKE.  A pair of keen Realtors are taking a new slant on serving the public with real estate services in the west side region of Vancouver Island.

Clive and Kirsten Greenaway opened their independent Greenaway Realty office in the hub of Sooke town center back in September 2017. The high-profile location at 2044 Otter Point Road (corner of Sooke Road) is attracting attention. This people-oriented husband-wife team is focussed on not just selling real estate (specializing in being the buyer’s agent), they offer property management services too.

Being a buyer’s agent means the Realtor is working for the person seeking to spend money on a property purchase. Listing Agents, by comparison, essentially work for the interests of the seller.

Property management is not about fixing leaky faucets or mowing the lawn. With the Greenaway team as licenced property managers, there is a full service for the owner of a rental property, including valuation of an accurate rental rate, marketing, showings, tenant screening/selection, security/rent collection, lease renewals, inspections as well as maintenance.

“We are excited to be serving a wide range of buyers and property owners in Sooke, Colwood and Langford,” says Clive Greenaway. “We keep our clients informed of changes in real estate law and practices, we’re a professional service,” says Kirsten Greenaway who is the agency broker. Their properties for sale and rent are posted at www.greenawayrealty.com


BC Premier John Horgan and his brother Pat Horgan.

Thursday, January 11 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier John Horgan is “very much in family mode this week”, upon the passing of his oldest brother, Pat Horgan on January 6.

The Premier’s office announced the news today, January 11: “It’s with great sadness that we announce that Pat Horgan, Premier John Horgan’s brother, passed away on Saturday, January, 6, 2018. Pat passed away from cancer at the age of 71. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.”

A service will be held in Pat’s home community of Port McNeill on February 10, 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the BC Cancer Agency in support of lung cancer research. Messages to the family can be sent by email to: shirpath04@gmail.com

According to the Premier’s staff, John Horgan, 58, looked up to brother Pat Horgan as a father figure. John Horgan has another brother and a sister. His mom passed away about nine years ago. John Horgan was born in Victoria, the son of Pat and Alice Horgan, who had four children. Horgan has been heard to say that he has no memories of his father, who died when Horgan was quite young. But based on stories from his family, he apparently takes a lot after his dad.

John Horgan has been the MLA for what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding (including Sooke), since 2005.


An attempted break-and-enter occurred in the drive-thru area of the TD Bank in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News file photo – 2017]

Wednesday, January 10 ~ SOOKE. At the TD Bank branch in Sooke there was an attempted break-in, through the wall at the drive-through area behind the building at 6670 Sooke Road.

Early in the morning of Thursday January 4 the attempt had been made; at 7:27 am Sooke RCMP received a call regarding the discovering of the potential break-and-enter.

Sooke RCMP says officers attended to find damage to the area around the drive-through ATM. The garbage can and deposit slip holder had been ripped off the wall, A hole about 6 inches wide was found cut through to the inside of the bank. Entry was not gained.

Investigation resulted in Gregory John Cunningham, 34, of Sooke, was arrested and charged with Break and Enter, Possession of Housebreaking Instruments, and Possession of Methamphetamine. Cunningham was taken into custody and is scheduled to appear in court January 18, says Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander S/Sgt Jeff McArthur.

This is the only significant crime incident at the Sooke branch since it opened in 2012.


 

Saturday, January 6 ~ While pretty much all the other Mayors in the CRD have declared they will be running again in the October 2018 municipal elections, Sooke Mayor Maja Tait told media that she is as yet undecided, that there is plenty of time with the election being 10 months away.

Elected in November 2014, Tait is in her first term as Mayor of the District of Sooke. Many of the mayors of other CRD municipalities are in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th terms or more.

Tait sits as a VP on the board of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), a position she could only retain if re-elected as mayor of a municipality.


Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [West Shore Voice News File Photo – July 2017]

Friday, January 5 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Fought for long and hard by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, recently-concluded mediation by the BC Government sees the extension of CRD piped water services made available to residents of JdF areas, including Otter Point to Port Renfrew (East Sooke and Malahat are also in JdFEA).

Until the mediation that concluded Jan 5, seven of the 13 municipalities within the CRD (Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood and Esquimalt) had rejected the idea of piped-water extension by rejecting the overall Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

Over the past year or two, Hicks had the continued support of Langford as well as the neighbouring Sooke municipality. Hicks’ pitch to Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-JdF) helped move things along, with Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson then extending the mediation deadline from Nov 30/17 to January 15.

CRD Directors will vote on the mediated solution at their board meeting on Wednesday January 10. If approved by the CRD Board, the RGS goes back to municipal councils for final approval.

The RGS is used as an overall guiding tool for regional development including transportation, land use, water, waste management, environmental services, arts and recreation, hospitals, planning strategies, and protective services.


 

Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Wednesday, January 3 ~ SOOKE.  RCMP have identified a Sooke man as the person killed in a two-vehicle crash last Friday, December 29 in the 5900-block of Sooke Road (Provincial Highway 14).

Police said Drew Ripley, 48 — driver of a grey Dodge Caravan heading westbound on Sooke Road — was pronounced dead at the scene. A woman driving an SUV heading eastbound was taken to hospital, but later released. Police said yesterday that no charges will be laid.

RCMP, Sooke Fire Rescue and the BC Ambulance Service were called to the two-vehicle collision at about 4:20 pm on Sooke Road, between Parkland and Woodlands Roads. The BC Coroner also arrived on scene shortly after that.

The woman who had been driving the eastbound green Jeep SUV had to be extricated by Sooke Fire Rescue using their hydraulic equipment.

“The investigation is ongoing. However, it appears from initial witness reports that the Dodge Caravan was travelling westbound when it crossed over the double solid line, colliding with the SUV travelling in the eastbound lane,” said RCMP Cpl. Joe Holmes in a press release.

Road conditions were wet and the sky was almost dark, near dusk. There were no passengers in either vehicle.

The collision caused major traffic delays, however, it occurred in an area where traffic could be diverted around the closed portion of the Highway. The vehicles were removed around 10:15 pm on the night of the crash but the road remained closed as BC Hydro and road crews cleaned up the area.


 

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 31 ~ VICTORIA.  Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of New Year’s Day 2018:

“The new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities. It is a chance to look back at the challenges we have faced, and to resolve ourselves to overcome obstacles in the year to come.

“From addressing housing affordability to tackling the opioid crisis, and the ongoing recovery from last year’s devastating wildfires, we have no shortage of important work to do in the coming year.

“On New Year’s Day we are given the opportunity to think about where we are and where we have to go. It is a day to consider the path ahead and to set our minds to meet our goals.

“In 2018, we will be working hard to create a strong, sustainable economy that benefits everyone, to make life more affordable for families and to improve the services people rely on.

“On behalf of the government of British Columbia, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy new year with many more to come.”


Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Sunday, December 31. The BC Coroner has confirmed that a man in his 40’s was killed in the MVI on Sooke Rd on Friday night, December 29. RCMP have not yet released any further official information. A roadside memorial was already in place December 30 in that poorly lit section of Highway 14 just east of Saseenos Elementary School.

===> PREVIOUS POST: Friday, December 29 ~ SOOKE. Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed this evening in both directions at Parkland Rd in Sooke due to a serious vehicle collision that occurred around 6:34 pm PST.

Traffic both eastbound and westbound on Sooke Road is blocked. However, a short local-area detour is available via Parkland Road to Blythwood Road to Woodlands Road. The provincial highway is estimated to reopen around 11 pm.

Reportedly the incident was a head-on collision involving two vehicles, with reportedly at least one fatality.

Road surfaces are wet today due to heavy rainfall most of the day.

Rescue crews from both Sooke Fire Dept and Langford Fire Dept have attended the crash.   More to come.


 

Sunday, December 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. As you ring in the new year tomorrow night, those who are politically inclined and civic minded are already well aware that 2018 is a big municipal election year in BC.

Elections BC says that the municipal and school board election period starts January 1, 2018, even though election day isn’t until October 20. That’s a lot of months of preparation for exposure to the community!

Candidates for Mayor, Council, and school trustee seats across BC may submit nomination papers starting September 4. The official campaign period begins September 22.

West Shore Voice News will in particular follow the campaign action all year in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, Juan de Fuca and View Royal (and school district 62 on the west shore) as candidates shuffle into place.

In our nearly 10 years of covering political and community news of this region, West Shore Voice News (formerly Sooke Voice News) election coverage has proven to get broad readership and good advertising traction.

This is the first municipal/trustee election after a 4-year term. Previously in BC, municipal and school board terms were for three years.


 

Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Friday, December 29 ~ SOOKE. Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed this evening in both directions at Parkland Rd in Sooke due to a serious vehicle collision that occurred around 6:34 pm PST.

Traffic both eastbound and westbound on Sooke Road is blocked. However, a short local-area detour is available via Parkland Road to Blythwood Road to Woodlands Road. The provincial highway is estimated to reopen around 11 pm.

Reportedly the incident was a head-on collision involving two vehicles, with reportedly at least one fatality.

Road surfaces are wet today due to heavy rainfall most of the day.

Rescue crews from both Sooke Fire Dept and Langford Fire Dept have attended the crash.   More to come.


Blood donation service at the Sooke Legion (April 2016). File Photo: West Shore Voice News

Monday, December 25 ~ NATIONAL. Last week, Canadian Blood Services was calling on eligible blood donors to help fill 35,000 appointments by January 6 to ensure that Canadian patients continue to have access to the blood and blood products they need over the holidays.

The next blood donor clinics coming up in the west shore area are on Monday January 15 at CFB Esquimalt, 1575 Lyall St (9 am to 4 pm); on Monday January 22 at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave, Colwood (12 noon to 7 pm); and on Monday, February 12 at the Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd (11:30 am to 6:30 pm).

New and existing donors are welcome and walk-ins are usually accepted. Some of the usually temporary impacts of giving blood include bruising, continued bleeding, dizziness, light-headedness and nausea. After giving blood, donors are offered juice and a cookie and are monitored for a while on site before they leave.

“The holiday period always presents challenges for us as we work to ensure we have enough blood and blood products to meet patients’ needs,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ Chief Supply Chain Officer. “We know that Canadians are busy with travel and activities over the holidays, and we hope that they will make time to save a life and give blood. Canadian patients’ lives depend on them.”

Platelets pose a particularly difficult challenge. Patients with serious bleeding or those undergoing cancer treatments rely on platelet donations, but with a shelf life of only seven days, the need for platelets is pressing and ongoing.

Canadian Blood Services manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). Their integrated, pan-Canadian service delivery model includes leading an interprovincial system for organ donation and transplantation.


 

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 24 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan has released the following statement in celebration of Christmas:

“Dec. 25 is a special day for Christians around the world. It is a day set aside to recognize the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation.

“For people of many backgrounds, Christmas is an opportunity for families to gather together and celebrate warmth, good food and good company.

“It offers us a break from the worries of the everyday world and a chance to focus on things that really matter – the people we love and the communities we care about.

“It is also a time to reach out to people in need, and work in a spirit of generosity to help and support each other.

“We hope that British Columbians throughout the province have a safe and joyful Christmas season.

“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, Merry Christmas.”

To see Premier John Horgan’s interview in West Shore Voice News, click here: December 15, 2017 issue


 

Sunday, December 24 ~ SOOKE. Today at SEAPARC Leisure Complex there’s a $2 Christmas Eve Skate, from 11:15 am to 1pm. It’s a lovely time of year to share the ice with family and friends.

There will also be a $2 New Year’s Eve Skate on Sunday December 31, from 11:15 am to 1pm. www.seaparc.ca


Friday, December 22 ~ SOOKE.  The Evergreen Shopping Centre in Sooke town centre was jam-packed with shoppers today. You know the scene, where you have to wait with your flasher on for a parking spot.

Shoppers Drug Mart was seeing steady customer flow as well as Western Foods. And of course the BC Liquor Store. And the newest tenant Bosley’s was busy with pet-supply shoppers.

There is no news update yet on who the new commercial tenants will be in that area at the front of the mall with great Sooke Road frontage (where the old RBC Bank used to be before it burned down in July 2013). But the pad area is cleared and ready. Mall owners Partners REIT are actively in the search for great new tenants.

 


EMCS Principal Pat Swinburnson will retire Dec 22, 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, December 21 ~ SOOKE. Friday December 22 will be Patrick Swinburnson’s last day on the job as the principal at EMCS.

It will also be his last day with SD62 and in his public education system career … 36 years! Retired! 

“I have loved the opportunity to have my own school and to try to make a difference. As principal, you can set the direction and tone of a school, and if you do it well and set off on the right path, lots of good things can happen,” Principal Swinburnson told West Shore Voice News this week.

See a full feature article exploring the highlights of Principal Pat Swinburnson’s impact at Edward Milne Community School — in the December 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News, page 3.


Old forest growth cleared on land owned by T’Sou-ke Nation, for future commercial development. [West Shore Voice News photo – Dec 18, 2017]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ SOOKE.  Big changes to the Sooke landscape! 
Regular commuters often feel they have ‘arrived’ back in Sooke when heading westbound home they see that tall stand of old trees along Sooke Road just east of Edward Milne Community School.
So it kinda takes your breath away to see the proud old trees having been cleared away this week. For future land development.
 
We hear there will be a Tim Horton’s coffee shop and a gas station on the land there on Edward Milne Road as owned by T-Souke Nation.
 

Reportedly a future Tim Horton’s and a gas station will be built here next to the EMCS high school [West Shore Voice News photo – Dec 18, 2017]

That will significantly impact the livelihood of little coffee shops in Sooke town centre, as well as the busy little gas-fillup trade of Chevron and PetroCan stations in town centre.
 
For years, teens and others in the community have frequently wished for a Tim Horton’s to come to town. It’s always been a matter of economics to bring a large franchise operation to a small town.
 
More to come on this breaking news story.

 

The Westhills view of snowy roads and hills today, Dec 19. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. It’s a snow day! Schools are closed for instruction in the west shore area (SD62) including in Langford, Colwood and Sooke. However, the buildings are open and staff are in the schools. Updates for tomorrow (Dec 20) will be posted on Twitter @SD62_Sooke

For general driving conditions, MAINROAD SOUTH ISLAND says: Drive with care today. Winter driving conditions. Expect snow, slush and slippery conditions. Use winter tires and be prepared to chain up, if needed. Please be aware of snow plows and snow clearing operations. Updates on Twitter: #DriveSafe

In Langford, the CITY of LANGFORD ENGINEERING said this morning: The City of Langford is asking all traffic to please avoid steep slope areas as we work to clear our roads. In particular please avoid Bear Mountain Parkway. Road clearing priorities mimic most other municipalities – we are clearing major collector roads, bus routes and steep slopes first. Please be patient as we make our way to the smaller local roads.  If you do not have to go out, please remain at home. Visibility coming in from the Highlands is very challenging for any drivers coming in from the District of Highlands, several abandoned vehicles Millstream Road at Millstream Lake Road and in the downhill lanes southbound Millstream Road approaching Millstream Lake Road. Snowfall is much more significant in the Highlands and in Langford at the higher elevations.

A portion of Highway 14 (Sooke Road) was blocked to through-traffic for a while this morning, due to a tree falling across the road.


 

Sunday, December 17, 2017 ~ Randall Garrison’s seasonal constituency open house will be held on Monday, December 18 from 4 to 6 pm at the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke constituency office, 2904 Tillicum Rd.  Here is Garrison’s seasonal letter to constituents:

“As the year comes to an end and the holiday season begins, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all residents of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke and their families.

It is an honour to represent you. In the New Year, I am committed to continuing to work for a fairer and greener Canada. As your Member of Parliament, I know that many of you are struggling with the housing crisis, affordability issues, and that you want our environment to be better protected.

I will continue to advocate for improvements to housing, Pharmacare, childcare, and affordability. I will also continue to stand with the majority of my constituents in their opposition to Kinder Morgan.

I hope that your holiday season is joyful and that the New Year brings you success and happiness.”


 

Saturday, December 16 ~ SOOKE. The amazing array of gifts and collectibles at B&K Jewelry & Gifts is something not to be missed in the holiday season!

The store at Sooke Centre Mall in Sooke town centre is open daily up to Christmas Eve, December 24. That includes Sundays.

Kathy and Brett co-own the upbeat, jam-packed gift shop. “We always try to have something unique and different,” says Kathy.

Brett makes custom jewelry. That’s especially popular ahead of Christmas.

Open 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily to Xmas Eve, at 106-6661 Sooke Rd.


Tuesday, December 12 ~ SOOKE. Coming up this Saturday December 16 is a festive Community Appreciation Day at the Sooke Family Resource Society Thrift Shop. Everyone is welcome for coffee and cake, particularly volunteers, staff, customers and donors.

“Without the donors and their overwhelming generosity we don’t have a store,” says SFRS Thrift Shop coordinator Bev Lewis.  “What better time of year than the holiday season to say thank you to all who support us,” says Bev.

Busy in her shop this week, as always, people are pumped up and excited about the holiday season.

About those donors: “People are always downsizing. If their kids don’t want it, the stuff often ends up here,” Bev told West Shore Voice News between handling customers at the busy store that is run by staff and volunteers.

On both Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16 everything in the store is half-price. The store is open 10 am to 4 pm, located at 6715 West Coast Road.


 

Celebrating the new artificial turf at Fred Milne Park in Sooke (from left): T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes, Langford Mayor Stew Young, Sooke Councillor Kevin Pearson, Premier John Horgan.

Friday, December 8 ~ SOOKE.   Last Sunday, December 3, a gathering of Sooke sport enthusiasts and VIPs celebrated the new artificial turf on the ball field at Fred Milne athletic park. Last Sunday, December 3, a gathering of Sooke sport enthusiasts and VIPs celebrated the new artificial turf on the  ball field at Fred Milne athletic park.

Sooke Councillor Rick Kasper said afterward that “the leadership of Sooke Community Association and Sooke Soccer has created a lasting legacy our community can be proud of.”

The $1.5 million project saw $1 million sourced from Gas Tax Funds through the District of Sooke and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area; the rest was provided by community groups and in-kind donations.

The City of Langford donated the turf (removed from their now-upgraded Westhills Stadium field). At the event in Sooke, Langford Mayor Stew Young commended everyone’s contributions. “The turf field is good for the region,” Young told West Shore Voice News this week. “All the work of volunteers built a great facility.” At Langford Council on December 4, Mayor Young said: “In a wet island region, the field will allow more opportunities for more kids and adults to get involved in activities without having cancellations due to bad weather.”

The outdoor event last Sunday was also attended by District of Sooke Councillors Ebony Logins, Brenda Parkinson, and Kevin Pearson; T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes and T’Sou-ke spiritual leader Shirley Alphonse; Premier John Horgan, MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca; and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.

“This was an incredible partnership between the Juan de Fuca residents, District of Sooke, volunteer trades, Sooke business and Sooke Community Association that resulted in a beautiful playing field for our kids,” said Mike Hicks. For years he has seen Juan de Fuca and Sooke youth heading into Victoria and beyond to take part in soccer games. Now they can stay in Sooke.

Councillor Pearson told TV media on Sunday: “It’s absolutely a huge day for Sooke and said “the real heroes are the volunteers”.


 

Friday, December 1 ~ VICTORIA.  November 2017 saw the highest number of property sales of any November in the Greater Victoria area since 1996 — 671 in total (12% more than sold last November). The number of active listings for sale dropped 7.4% in one month from October to November.

The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) predicted last month that buyers might accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a home ahead of ‘stress test’ rules set for January 2018.  Overall in Greater Victoria there were 307 single family home sales in November selling at a raw average price of $902,985.

It should be understood that VREB’s data-adjusted HPI figures show $693,200, which means people are paying far above what most people hear as the selling price.

In the west shore, the real price of a house in Langford last month was $696,933 (61 sales) while the HPI was given as $593,800. In Colwood there were 15 sales averaging out at $725,290 while the HPI was $658,100. In Sooke there were 18 house sales in November at a real average sale price of $509,418 while the HPI was $483,300.

So that’s almost a million dollars in overall Greater Victoria for a house and over half a million in Sooke where housing is considered to be affordable.

Condo sales rolled in like this: 219 in Greater Victoria averaging $437,822; Langford 26  sales averaging  $330,298; Colwood 5 sales averaging $396,900; and one sale in Sooke at $229,000. All stats: www.vreb.org


 

Sunday, November 26 ~ SOOKE.  The Sooke Community Choir ‘goes classic’ this holiday season! You won’t hear jingle bells or any traditional pop culture Christmas tunes at the Sooke Community Choir holiday season concert this year.

This year it’s “all about beautiful music that isn’t attached to Christmas but gives feeling of this time of year,” says Sooke Community Choir artistic director Bruce Ruddell. That will include Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring and what Ruddell calls Handel’s ‘rock tune’, that being Messiah, For unto us a child is born.

Of the modern vintage, you will hear Let There Be Peace on Earth which Ruddell feels applies at any time of the year. “This is all really beautiful music that I can’t imagine the world existing without,” enthuses the creative and dramatic choir director who has devoted his energies to the Sooke Community Choir coming up now five years.

Ruddell and his family live in Victoria. He makes the regular trek to Sooke for rehearsals and of course the concerts. Rehearsals have switched in recent months from Sooke Community Hall over to the Christian Life Assembly church on West Coast Road. The grand piano is set up and ready for every rehearsal. “This is a choir of singers who love to sing. They really make me feel great. We make music every Wednesday night. It doesn’t get much better,” mused Ruddell.

Concerts this season will start at the grand Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Victoria on Friday, December 1 (7 pm) where up to 350 can be seated. Then three concerts the following weekend in Sooke at Sooke Community Hall on Friday/Saturday December 8 & 9 (7:30 pm) and Sunday December 10 (2 pm) where the seating capacity is about 250. Tickets are $20 at the door ($15 seniors/students) and at various retail outlets.

Accompanying the choir for these concerts will be cellist Rachel Capon and violinist Hollas Longton as well as pianist Kathy Russell. “Small bits” of the concert will be taken to the Ayre Manor seniors residence during the holiday season, says Ruddell who is happy that the choir is helping out in the community.

There are 60 singers in the Sooke Community Choir. “There’s a bit of a waiting list, which is great,” said Ruddell last week during a chat with West Shore Voice News. “There are more men this year – we’ve got a great bass and tenor section. That balances out the choir. The rest are sopranos and altos,” he outlined.

Last year’s Christmas season concert had a Celtic theme. Ruddell hopes that this year’s Christmas concert will “put that audience in a very special mood… contemplative and meditative”.

=== Article by Mary P Brooke ~ as first published in the November 24, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News


Highway 14 heading west to Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo, Summer 2017]

Friday, November 24 ~ SOOKE. When it comes to hot topics around Sooke, one of the most heated is Highway 14 (Sooke Road). So it was a bit surprising to hear not too many new ideas or any momentum for action during the Transition Sooke evening presentation on Monday November 20.

Called “Rethinking Traffic as Usual”, the presentation by guest speaker Eric Doherty to about 40 Sooke residents gathered in the second-floor library at Edward Milne Community School was mainly a pitch for more bus transit on the provincial highway. The same old arguments about more roads or further road expansion leading to more congestion somewhat fell on deaf ears.

There were the same comments one always hears about unsafe driving conditions on Hwy 14 (notably lack of lighting and lack of simple instruments such as reflectors). Some good news — as first published on page 1 in West Shore Voice News on November 17 — is that Premier John Horgan (who is MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Hwy 14 runs) has asked Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) staff to go back to the drawing board with more safety improvements for the road. [See pg 1 in the November 17, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News  ]

While public transit is essential and important and should of course be more frequent along Highway 14 between Langford and Sooke, Horgan is among a growing number of active business people and community leaders who realize that motor vehicle traffic flow and safety on the road to Sooke is the key ingredient to opening up the region to economic development.

The main reason Hwy 14 is so heavily travelled (in addition to tourist traffic) is the daily commute for people heading to Langford, Victoria and beyond on a daily basis for employment.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait herself admitted to fellow directors at the November 8 board meeting of the Capital Regional District that a lack of jobs in Sooke is a problem without any sort of immediate solution and that the situation therefore requires improvements to commuter transportation from Sooke to the main urban areas.

Widening the highway to four lanes all the way from Langford to Sooke seems rather unaffordable given the mountainous terrain and the amount of private property along the highway that would need to be purchased to make it possible. If four lanes are considered by proponents to be one and the same as unfettered accessibility between Langford and Sooke, there could be a better clarification… like passing lanes (i.e. a 3rd lane in the middle) and more left turn lanes in obvious locations (like at the 17 Mile Pub curve).

A group of Sooke-based businessmen promoting “Divided by 14” are not generating positive traction among the Sooke population with that Twitter-based moniker that was first launched in Langford-Juan de Fuca during the 2017 provincial election campaign.

After the Monday night presentation at least one long-time Sookie asked with puzzlement: “why Divided”? There is still the sentiment in the unique Sooke culture that being separate and apart from the mainstream is part of what makes Sooke special or at the very least protects the natural beauty and environment that Sooke relies upon for tourism economics.

Even District of Sooke Councillor Brenda Parkinson — who openly admitted to speeding above the limit on Hwy 14 — said on Monday night that she likes the road the way it is.

Bottom line is that without more jobs in Sooke, the highway will become even more heavily travelled. Bus service and carpooling while good tools for transit do come with restrictions on scheduling. The idea of “one person in one vehicle” being a negative thing is oftentimes short-sighted, in that flexibility for small business and heading to appointments, services and shopping (including storage capacity of a vehicle) cannot always be accomplished by public transit.

Almost no one ever seems to discuss the carbon imprint of large buses that oftentimes run empty at non-peak hours, not to mention the staffing and equipment costs. Also, individual vehicles are becoming increasingly efficient (including the use of electric vehicles).

Comments from those present at the Monday evening discussion included “call Hwy 14 what it is… a rural road” (as in lack of proper highway travel conditions). The Sooke region is fortunate that the premier of BC has himself for years traveled Hwy 14, and that in turning back the Hwy 14 improvements report to MOTI staff for another go-round is going to probably produce better results in the mid-to-long-term.

After the presentation, the speaker admitted to have excluded the economic argument, having wanted to focus on a push for better bus transit. However, omitting the economic factor out of the equation is to hobble on one leg.


2015 Red Jeep Wrangler ended up in the forest after careening off Sooke Road on Nov 23, 2017 [RCMP photo]

Friday, November 24 ~ SOOKE. Sooke RCMP are seeking witnesses to a high-speed driving incident on Highway 14 westbound involving a man driving a red 2015 Jeep Wrangler yesterday (Thursday November 23). Reports starting flooding into 911 at about 1:20 pm.

One witness reported that the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 180 km/h in the four-lane section of Highway 14 in Langford.  “So many calls were received on 911 it overwhelmed the South Island Operational Communication Center,” says Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander S/Sgt Jeff McArthur.

The vehicle was reported to be passing vehicles on the double solid line, driving at a high rate of speed.

RCMP say that at 5800-block of Sooke Road the vehicle went off road to the right, running over a bench at a bus stop, gouging a telephone pole, knocking out a fence,  severing trees and coming to rest down a ravine.  “The driver, surprisingly, sustained only minor injuries.  The vehicle was completely demolished.  A search of the area where the vehicle came to rest on its side yielded alcohol and a loaded handgun,” says McArthur.

A 42-year-old man from Duncan who is “well known to police” was treated at Victoria General Hospital for minor injuries then transported to the Sooke RCMP detachment where he remains in custody.  He is facing charges of Possession of an Unregistered Restricted Weapon, Impaired Driving, Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample and Dangerous Driving.

The Sooke RCMP are asking that anyone who witnessed the manner in which this vehicle was being driven to contact Sooke RCMP between 8 am to 4pm at 250-642-5241.

[Photo is a sample of a Jeep Wrangler, not the actual vehicle involved in the November 23 incident]


 

Sid Jorna of Team Sooke/JuandeFuca

Wednesday, November 22 ~ SOOKE / Juan de Fuca.   A new family will soon be in Sooke! Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca has recently announced that the Iraqi family of four (mother, father, and two daughters now age 21 and 13) who they are sponsoring has completed all the required steps for immigration. The family is expected to arrive in Sooke in early December 2017.

The group is now focusing on finding accommodation. They’ve been looking for at least two bedrooms, preferably in the Sooke town core on the 61 bus route. But they will consider all options! If you have any ideas or leads phone Howard Taylor at 250.642.0908.

“We’ve been working with the family for a year and half to help them get ready,” said lead organizer Sid Jorna this week.

The group’s fundraising goal has been met, but they continue to welcome donations to help furnish the family’s home. All monetary donations are 100% tax-deductible.

Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca has received two grants from the District of Sooke. One of the grants last year was for bus passes so that transportation to services in the west shore and Victoria are accessible.

About 14 people have kept the Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca group running for over two years, preparing for the arrival of the new family.


Tuesday, November 21 ~ SOOKE. The 24th annual “Santa Run” will take place on Saturday, December 9 starting at 5 pm. Presented by the Sooke Firefighter’s Association and IAFF Local 4841, the annual Santa Run is a well-loved holiday tradition in Sooke.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of firefighters from the District of Sooke, Otter Point and East Sooke, much-needed cash and food donations are collected in support of the Sooke Christmas Bureau and local families in need. Decorated with bright and colorful Christmas lights and playing festive holiday music, four trucks loaded with Santa and helpers will be driving through neighbourhoods to collect cash and food donations.

This event is the capstone of the firefighters annual Fill-a-Fire-Truck campaign (collection of non perishable food items and cash in front of the grocery stores and Shoppers in Sooke during December). Last year over $100,000 in food and cash was donated by caring residents.

“This tradition of giving, and helping our neighbours is really what Sooke is all about,” says Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “Council extends much appreciation to our community – the firefighters, staff, volunteers and residents – who contribute to the Santa Run and foster the true spirit of the holidays.”

How to participate:  • Watch for your bag – delivered to homes in the town core on November 29 and bags can also be picked up at the Sooke Fire Station after November 29.• Check out the four routes on the bag and determine closest location to you.• Place non-perishable donations in the bag.• Follow the fire truck routes online via the live “Santa Tracker” www.sooke.ca/santa on the day of the run.• Listen for the music and look for the firetruck sirens and lights. • Meet Santa en route with your donation bag.

Donations can also be dropped off at the Sooke Fire Hall at 2225 Otter Point Road on the same day (Saturday, December 9). Updates on social media:  Facebook: SookeFireRescue   Twitter:  @SookeCa and #SookeSanta


BC Premier John Horgan

Friday, November 17 ~ LANGFORD/SOOKE.  BC Premier John Horgan — MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca area through which Highway 14 (Hwy14/Sooke Road) runs, has told Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) staff to go back to the drawing board.

Horgan has recently reviewed a long-awaited report intended to improve driving and safety conditions on the winding, through-the-hills provincial highway that connects Sooke and westerly beyond to the rest of Greater Victoria. The Premier has asked for more details and options, to work harder on finding a solution, it was learned from government officials on November 17.

The first draft apparently has some “good projects” within it, but “not sufficient scale that the MLA wants”. While this delays the timeline for seeing improvements on Hwy 14, it will likely come as good news to Sooke residents, commuters, and the regional tourism industry because it means the Premier (who is directly familiar with details of the road) is watching out for his constituents and the region, toward a better result. It also makes sense to use taxpayers’ dollars wisely, and if the improvements will leave some things undone, then it’s prudent to further develop some meaningful improvements.

Highway 14 heading west to Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo, Summer 2017]

Apart from a short 4-lane stretch from the West Shore Parkway intersection west toward Sooke, Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) is single-lane. Until a person has driven it many times, for various reasons including road line (some tight angles), sight lines (especially with headlights from oncoming night traffic), lack of lighting and no opportunity for passing, the road presents a challenging drive. Even for seasoned drivers of the Sooke Road, at night and/or in inclement weather, it’s still a drive that could be considered difficult and risky.

Premier Horgan has asked senior officials to engage in a very focussed consultative process with an informal regional group of business people (that sometimes refers to itself as the Sooke Economic Development Commission) who focus on Hwy 14 issues and also Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait addressed UBCM delegates in Vancouver (Sept 2017) ~ Photo credit: UBCM

Mayor Tait was been awaiting the transportation report along with everyone else. Today she said: “Premier Horgan as our MLA is well aware of needed improvements to Hwy 14, and while MOTI staff have worked to have the draft completed, I’m grateful that our MLA  and Premier is taking the time to ensure the study fully captures the necessary improvements for the safety of our residents and visitors.”

City of Langford Mayor Stew Young [West Shore Voice News photo]

Langford Mayor Stew Young sees opening up the Sooke region as a benefit to regional economic development. Regarding the now further delay of the MOTI plan for improving Hwy 14, Mayor Young said today: “I am hopeful the provincial government will keep the solution to Hwy 14 and the E&N corridor into Victoria as high priorities”. “I will be reaching out to Transportation Minister Trevena to see what opportunities we have to find a solution for Westshore and Sooke residents,” he said.

In recent years some improvements have included wider shoulders including bike lanes in some stretches, as well as the roundabout in Sooke town centre. Otherwise, there remain several sections that obviously require left-turn lanes for improved safety (such as at 17 Mile House, and at Manzer Rd) and improved lighting all along the highway — Sooke to Langford — that would produce immense improvements in safe use of the road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

And here’s what MOTI had to say about their rejected report today: “BC is working hard to build roads and highways that support growing communities and help encourage economic development across the province. For Hwy 14, we want to make the corridor between Langford and Sooke as safe and as accessible as possible – not just for people in cars, but for people who take transit and people who bike and walk.”

The ministry also says that it focused the corridor study on safety upgrades “because people who frequently travel the route told us they were concerned about reliability and wanted to see it closed less frequently.”  Apparently the study also looked at ways to promote greater transit use, and how to encourage more cycling over the short and medium timeframe. “The initial findings identify several safety and transit improvements that could be implemented over the next year or two in addition to the work that is already underway,” said a statement by MOTI.

New lines were painted on Hwy 14 in summer 2015 [West Shore Voice News photo]

And now they have heard from Premier Horgan that the review “doesn’t go far enough to improve mobility along this corridor and to meet the demands of the increasing population, as more and more people make their homes and establish their businesses in the Sooke area.” It’s clear that authors of the report either don’t drive Hwy 14 themselves or did not consult with Sooke-area businesses, community leaders or daily commuters who could have identified very specific needs.

“The ministry is going to take the report a step further, looking at ways to make travel along this route more reliable and to increase mobility, such as adding future passing lanes and potential short road re-alignments to straighten out some of the curves,” said MOTI officials on November 17.

“We’re going to expand the study to go all the way to Port Renfrew and we’re going to hear from stakeholders in the region to get their ideas for long term improvements on this corridor.”  MOTI concluded: “This government cares about building strong, connected communities and is committed to solving the broader transportation challenges and needs in the South Island region.”

On Monday, November 20 a presentation about Hwy 14 and broader transportation issues will be hosted by Transition Sooke at Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Rd, at 7 pm. The event is open to the community and is expected to be well-attended.

This article first published in the November 17, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Monday, November 13 ~ SOOKE. Just a reminder to commuters and anyone travelling between Sooke and the Langford/Victoria area for business, shopping or appointments … to expect and plan for traffic delays on Thursday November 16 on Sooke Road (Highway 14).

Some live maintenance work is planned for hydro poles in 5700-block that day (action zone approximately between Harbourview Road and Woodlands).

Single lane traffic and delays can be expected from 9 am to 3 pm. This will cause backups both eastbound into Langford and westbound toward Sooke.

Roadside marquee signage has been up for a few days already, giving advance notice of the traffic congestion that is expected on Thursday.

“We’re doing the work live,” says BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk. “We appreciate the public’s patience and the delays it may cause.” He also hopes drivers will obey the speed limits and respect the flaggers who will be on site to manage the traffic flow.

Even in this rainy season, BC Hydro is doing the work on one or more poles with 25 kV lines without turning off the power, so that a major power outage is not required for a large part of the Sooke area. For safety reasons, this work on live wires must be done during the daytime, says Olynyk.

Sooke Road is a provincial highway (Highway 14), and is effectively the only road in and out of Sooke (population 13,000).


BC Premier John Horgan placed a wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford, November 11, 2017 [Photo by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, November 11 ~ LANGFORD.  BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) laid a wreath and made some brief remarks at the podium during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Langford today. In total, 62 wreaths were laid.

Langford is Horgan’s home town. For many previous years however, as MLA before becoming Premier, Horgan attended Remembrance Day at the Sooke Legion in the other area of his riding.

VIPs arrived in a parade. At Veteran Memorial Park, about 1,000 people were gathered under threat of rain, standing or seated in some bleachers in the cold for the one-hour event.

Service personnel in uniform stood in formation for the entire hour. Music by the Westshore Community Concert Band, Gordon United Church Choir and Westshore Girl Guides.

Roads were closed in central Langford, including by large trucks positioned horizontally across roads. Helicopters and airplanes flew overhead at various points. On-the-ground security was present but not overtly obvious.

Four mayors from the west shore area laid wreaths immediately after Premier Horgan: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams.


 

Children at the Sooke Cenotaph after the Remembrance Day ceremony (2013). Photo: West Shore Voice News

Friday, November 10 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan released the following statement in honour of Remembrance Day tomorrow.

“On Remembrance Day, people around British Columbia honour veterans, armed forces members, merchant marines and families who have sacrificed in service of our country.

“For many of us, it’s impossible to imagine the courage it takes to put on a uniform and go into harm’s way. Yet for generations, Canadians have bravely risked their lives to protect ours.

“Today, in moments of silence all around the province, we pay tribute to loved ones lost, and to those who have returned with injuries, both visible and invisible.

“We cannot forget the tragedies of war, and we must all work together to build a more peaceful world. Lest we forget.”


 

BC Premier John Horgan

Wednesday, November 8 ~ LANGFORD. BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca which includes Sooke) will be attending the upcoming Remembrance Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Langford.

EMCS Principal Pat Swinburnson

The Remembrance Day event in Sooke will be held at the Sooke Legion cenotaph. Those attending should gather in good time ahead of the 11 am two minutes of silence.

Standing in for Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca which includes Sooke) will be Patrick Swinburnson, principal of Edward Milne Community School.

Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) will be attending the Remembrance Day event in Esquimalt.

 


Tuesday, November 7 ~ SOOKE. Once again ‘what to do about Highway 14 (Sooke Road)’ is in the news.

As new speed reader boards are readied for installation on one stretch of Highway 14 (in the Luxton area in Langford, east of where the 4-lane starts toward Sooke), a public discussion about Highway 14 as the one-road-in/out of Sooke is also coming up.

The “Sooke’s Transportation Future: Hwy #14 Upgrades, Four Lanes and/or Improved Public Transit?” presentation and discussion will be held on Monday, November 20. It’s part of the Transition Sooke’s Speaker Series. The two-hour event billed as  will start at 7 pm, at Edward Milne Community School, 6218 Sooke Road, Sooke.

The evening will feature a presentation by Eric Doherty, a Registered Transportation Planner with the Victoria consultancy firm Ecopath Planning and a founding member of the Better Transit Alliance – Greater Victoria.  Admission is free or by small donation

The evening will add “further context to a hot topic addressed this year in the provincial election campaign and by the #DividedBy14 initiative,” says Transition Sooke spokesperson Jeff Bateman. “Doherty will address the big picture of regional transportation while focusing on Sooke’s part within it,” he says.

Transition Sooke says the talk “will serve as a prelude to the release of a long-awaited BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure report on continuing upgrades to our winding road home (which is blocked for an annual average of three hours per week due to accidents)”. Last week Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said: “We continue to wait for the preliminary report, and look forward to working with the Province on continued improvements to Highway 14.”

Apparently BC Transit will be scheduling a public forum in Sooke next year to hear community views and opinions about the region-wide bus service. In Sooke the main bus is #61 also with transfers to the #50 in Langford.

A local group of Sooke business people who earlier this year initiated the #DividedBy14 campaign to heighten awareness about the highway are functioning as an ad hoc Sooke Economic Development Commission. Recently they have come up with a list of target improvements for Highway 14 that if implemented could — one by one — improve the efficiency and safety of the provincial highway.


 

Tuesday, November 7 ~ SOOKE. Expect traffic delays on Thursday November 16 on Sooke Road (Highway 14), for some live maintenance work being done on hydro poles in 5700-block.

BC Hydro crews will be working alongside Sooke Road on Thursday November 16. [Photo from Aug 2017 by West Shore Voice News]

Single lane traffic and delays can be expected from 9:30 am to 3 pm.  This will cause backups both eastbound into Langford and westbound toward Sooke.

“We’re doing the work live,” says BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk. “We appreciate the public’s patience and the delays it may cause.” He also hopes drivers will obey the speed limits and respect the flaggers who will be on site to manage the traffic flow.

BC Hydro is doing the work live on one or more poles with 25 kV lines so that a major power outage is not required for a large part of the Sooke area. For safety reasons, this work on live wires must be done during the daytime, says Olynyk.

Sooke Road is a provincial highway (Highway 14), and is effectively the only road in and out of Sooke (population 13,000).


 

Tuesday, November 7 ~ SOOKE. Tonight ‘Emily Carr’ is coming to Sooke! Theatre professional and artist Molly Raher Newman will talk about her recent train trip from Vancouver to Ottawa and exhibit the ‘Emily Carr’ paintings that she created along the way.
 
“My trip was about art, Emily Carr and the Group of Seven,” said Molly today as she prepared to load up her paintings and get out to Sooke Harbour House (1528 Whiffin Spit Road) for this evening’s presentation.
 
The presentation starts at 7:30 pm. Admission is free, sponsored by the Sooke Community Arts Council.
 
See more about Molly’s trip across the country and her visit in Ottawa at https://www.shaw.ca/ShawTV/Victoria/

Posted speed limit is 60 kph on Hwy 14 heading eastbound at the West Shore Parkway [West Shore Voice News photo – Nov 2017]

Monday, November 6 ~ WEST SHORE.  Provincial Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is getting some speed reader boards in the ‘Luxton strectch’ east of the upward winding section toward West Shore Parkway.

Speed reader boards are those electronic signs that use radar to detect the speed of an approaching vehicle and display the speed on an LED variable message display. The speed display is typically combined with a static (non-electronic) display that includes the text “Your Speed” or similar.

The posted speed on Highway 14 in that section heading westbound toward West Shore Parkway is 60 kph (or 50 kph when children are on the highway) and when heading eastbound just at West Shore Parkway and heading to the Langford town area.

Hwy 14 beyond West Shore Parkway on the way to Sooke has a 80 kph posted speed limit on the 4-lane section, reducing to 60 kph again when the road is single-lane heading to Sooke.

The intent of the Speed Reader Board is to encourage compliance with the posted speed limit by making motorists aware of their actual speed. They are intended to be used as supplements to the maximum posted speed signs to encourage compliance when transitioning to a lower posted speed, such as school zones, road construction zones, and communities located along highways.

Posted speed limit 60 kph on Sooke Road (HWy 14) heading eastbound on the curve ahead of Glenshire Rd. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Five years ago an injury collision on Hwy 14 near Glenshire Road resulted in the death of 13-year-old Langford resident AJ (Adam Jessie) Wakeling. The highway in that winding stretch between Glenshire Road and the driveway entrance to Slegg Lumber was poorly lit, it was later determined by West Shore RCMP.  The driver of a small pickup truck heading eastbound at the crest of a hill and around a sweeping curve was never charged, as the teen was wearing dark clothing and the driver was determined to have been travelling at the average speed for a dry road.

“The fatal crash five years ago on Highway 14 was a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation last week. “Following the incident, Ministry staff reviewed this section of the highway as part of assisting local police with their investigation into the crash.”

MOTI continued: “Since the crash, the Ministry installed a new crosswalk and an eastbound bus stop near Slegg Lumber, and earlier this year completed a new westbound bus stop. In addition, we have ordered speed reader boards that will be installed in the Luxton area of the corridor in the coming weeks.” But still no additional lighting.

Curve in the highway, eastbound on Hwy 14 at Leledo Rd. [West Shore Voice News photo]

A corridor-wide safety study of Highway 14 between Langford and Sooke is underway and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, says MOTI.

The Sooke Economic Development Commission (EDC) which has taken on Highway 14 issues as its key mandate toward expanded economic growth for the Sooke region, eagerly awaits the report. The group may soon have specific observations and improvement requests for various sections of the road to Sooke.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait told West Shore Voice News last week: “We continue to wait for the preliminary report, and look forward to working with the Province on continued improvements to Highway 14.”


 

Memorial at the site of a fatal crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd), five years after the incident. [Photo by West Shore Voice News]

Saturday, November 4 ~ SOOKE. Five years ago 13-year-old Langford resident AJ (Adam Jessie) Wakeling died from his injuries after crossing Highway 14 (Sooke Road) in a dark, winding stretch between Glenshire Road and the driveway entrance to Slegg Lumber.

The October 25, 2012 fatal crash was determined to have resulted from low visbility. The driver of a small pickup truck heading eastbound at the crest of a hill and around a sweeping curve was never charged, as the teen was wearing dark clothing and the driver was determined to have been travelling at the average speed for a dry road. Poor lighting was determined by West Shore RCMP to be the key factor.

“The fatal crash five years ago on Highway 14 was a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation this week. “Following the incident, Ministry staff reviewed this section of the highway as part of assisting local police with their investigation into the crash.”

MOTI continued: “Since the crash, the Ministry installed a new crosswalk and an eastbound bus stop near Slegg Lumber, and earlier this year completed a new westbound bus stop. In addition, we have ordered speed reader boards that will be installed in the Luxton area of the corridor in the coming weeks.” But still no additional lighting.

A corridor-wide safety study of Highway 14 between Langford and Sooke is underway and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, says MOTI.

The Sooke Economic Development Commission (EDC) which has taken on Highway 14 issues as its key mandate toward expanded economic growth for the Sooke region, eagerly awaits the report. The group may soon have specific observations and improvement requests for various sections of the road to Sooke.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait told West Shore Voice News this week: “We continue to wait for the preliminary report, and look forward to working with the Province on continued improvements to Highway 14.”


 

Thursday, November 2 ~ BC.  Salmon have returned to the rivers. The Salmon Sensation Drop-in Event is on Saturday, November 4 from 11am–2pm at the Charters Interpretive Centre on Sooke River Road in Sooke.  For all ages! Fishy-fun activities, a craft and guided walks with CRD naturalists along Charters River. It’s an opportunity for a closeup look at these magnificent fish as they return to spawn and complete their lifecycle.

 

 


 

SOOKE LOCAL NEWS – ARCHIVE