SOOKE – Local News


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

  • Earth Day Party in Sooke – April 22 – 10 am to 9 pm – Sooke Community Hall





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 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 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 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.

>> 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.

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 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


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 |


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 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 . 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.


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

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 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:

==== 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

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


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

Comments may be emailed to 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.

> 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

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:

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.

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:


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” 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

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.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017 ~ BC. Local governments throughout BC have until November 1, 2017 to provide feedback on the provincial discussion paper, Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in British Columbia.

The Province will draw upon feedback obtained through the engagement process as it considers key policy decisions that will form the foundation of its legalized cannabis framework, it was stated today by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

UBCM encourages all local governments to provide submissions to ensure that feedback provided to Province represents the diversity of our membership. Local government responses to the discussion paper will be considered as a separate cohort among the feedback provided.

Many people across Canada already use cannabis products for medicinal reasons. Recreational users often incur criminal records for simple possession, something that will likely fade away after the federal government brings in their new laws and regulations in July 2018.

Considered by pretty much all stakeholders to be a positive aspect of the upcoming legislation is to keep marijuana products out of the hands of youth (for health and safety reasons), and to control or eliminate the current black-market and criminal element of marijuana sales. The federal government will gain tax revenues under the new legislation. Provincial and municipal governments also stand to gain financially under the new laws and regulations.

For many, a major concern remains about road safety related to cannabis use. While for alcohol consumption the roadside blood-alcohol level testing has become mainstream, the ways and means for testing one’s state of clarity while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana remains to be fully determined.

Presently on the west shore of Vancouver Island:

>> In Sooke, a few marijuana-product outlets have already been operating in the town centre area for almost two years. About that… Sooke Council has had discussions but is essentially waiting for federal legislation to come into effect. Today Sooke Mayor Maja Tait (who sits on the UBCM executive) told West Shore Voice: “We received a staff report on Monday and will send a response summarizing the highlighted concerns within. These regulations and the Provincial request pertain to the Federal Government’s legalization of non-medical cannabis, that was the focus of our Agenda.”

>> In Colwood, the City of Colwood Council has had discussions about cannabis legalization and regulation, as well as participating in discussions at the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities and Union of BC Municipalities conferences. “The City will adhere to the current Colwood Land Use Bylaw and Business Bylaw until such time as the Federal and Provincial governments provide direction regarding legalization,” said Colwood’s communications manager Sandra Russell today. The Colwood Land Use and Business Bylaws currently prohibits marijuana dispensaries other than a licensed pharmacy or premises licensed under the “Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations”.

>> In Langford, a few marijuana product outlets that have opened have been quickly shut down through bylaw-related mechanisms. No statement on this topic was provided from the City of Langford today.

> Link to the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in BC discussion paper:

Deer in an urban area of Greater Victoria.

Wednesday, October 25 ~ BC. Funding from the BC Government is available to manage urban deer, it was announced today by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Up to $100,000 will be provided to local governments and First Nations communities (that are involved in urban deer activities or research into population control methods) to help fund urban deer management projects under the 2017-18 Provincial Urban Deer Cost-share Program. Applications due on or before November 17, 2017, info: 2017-18 Urban Deer Cost-share Program Application Guide

Eligible proposals will be evaluated by members of the Provincial Urban Deer Advisory Committee which includes reps from the Province,  local governments, the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Successful proponents will be advised in December.

Projects that address human-deer conflict in areas where traditional deer management techniques are not appropriate will be given priority. Matching funds are required from any local government or First Nation that applies.

There are about 135,000 mule deer, 128,000 black-tail deer and more than 100,000 white-tail deer in BC. Deer are managed in BC by the BC Government which authorizes municipalities to undertake urban deer management actions. Provincial support includes technical advice, regulatory authority, necessary permits, specialized equipment and other management tools.


Retail candy handouts in Sooke stores on Halloween [Sooke Voice News photo 2014]

Sunday, October 22 ~ HALLOWEEN is coming up on the West Side of Vancouver Island!  It’s a big party for families on the west side of Vancouver Island each year!

Bonfires will be bright against the night sky on Tuesday October 31 at Colwood fire hall (6:30 to 8:30 pm) and at Camp Barnard in the Sooke area (starting 6:30 pm, with fireworks at 7:30 pm by Otter Point Fire).

In Langford check out Halloween festivities happening October 31 at all three fire stations: 2625 Peatt Rd, 3205 Happy Valley Rd, 2872 Sooke Lake Rd from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Earlier in the day in the Sooke retail areas swarms of kids and teens will visit stores for candy handouts.

The Sooke Fire Dept reminds anyone who plans to set off fireworks to purchase a fireworks permit for $10 at Fire Hall #1 at 2225 Otter Point Rd. “We encourage everyone to have a safe and happy Halloween!”, says Mount.

For many years, families in Sooke have enjoyed the ‘Safe Halloween’ event and haunted house presented by the Sooke Fire Department and volunteers. But this year, Sooke FD priorities have shifted to a municipal-issues open house coming up this Wednesday, as well as the Santa Run and Santa Claus parade, says Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount.

Fire departments remind trick-or-treaters to choose flame-resistant, high-visibility costumes. When decorating, be FireSmart and that means avoid open flames. Trick-or-treating with family or a buddy in well-lit areas with flashlights or glow sticks is a smart Halloween choice. Parents should approve treats before kids get into them.


Friday, October 20 ~ SOOKE.  Come spend a night ‘with Emily Carr’ at Sooke Harbour House.

Molly Raher Newman, local Vancouver Island artist and actor who has played the roll of Emily Carr for the past 19 years, has been recreating Emily’s 1927 train ride from Vancouver through Northern Ontario to Ottawa in October. This commemorative train trip, part of the Canada 150 celebrations is to showcase 90 years of Emily Carr as an important and historic icon.

Upon her return, the enactment artist will exhibit her water colour paintings done during the trip and talking about her adventures.

Sooke Harbour House and the Sooke Community Arts Council are sponsoring this free evening Tuesday November 7 at 7:30 pm in the Potlatch Room at Sooke Harbour House on Whiffin Spit Road.


Logs in Sooke await their fate as donated fundraising-firewood.

Monday, October 16 ~ SOOKE.   Log giveaway in Sooke. About 60 to 80 cords of alderwood have recently been logged from Lot A on Wadams Way in Sooke. The logs lie exhausted in a big pile by the fence along Sooke Road at Kaltasin Road in the District of Sooke’s workyard.

It’s quite a sight for those who live in other areas of Greater Victoria where felling even one tree in protected areas generates quite an uproar.

It’s just one more indication that while Sooke tries to include itself in the urban swath for services like getting a hospital or clinic, the region is still firmly connected to its rural roots.

The land clearing at Lot A is to make way for construction of the new, long-promised Sooke library (opening now pushed well into 2019, it was stated in a Vancouver Island Regional Library release in recent weeks).

Sooke Council took several awkward minutes off-line (microphones deliberately turned off) at their October 10 meeting to review “new information” as Mayor Maja Tait put it, after senior staff declined the mayor’s request to verbally brief council on the logging report. That’s a council-staff dynamic you don’t see in many municipal councils — mayor and council unprepared and senior administrative staff refusing to support a smooth presentation, and/or an attempt to reveal disclosure of some discussion.

The audience chatted and fidgeted during what was clearly a break in the meeting as Mayor and council read the report and had some discussions. Online viewers got a good chunk of silence to watch. With the webcast back on, Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount was then asked to provide some technical information.

Political options for what to do with the logs included offering them to non-profits for resale as fundraising opportunities, or selling the logs as firewood and keeping the proceeds of direct sale for the district’s own budget. As an active micro-management exercise, the Mayor lured real-time advertising-booking commitments out of council.

Councillor Kerrie Reay said the district is “always looking for money” and therefore supported direct sale of the logs and keeping the proceeds for the municipal budget, as did Councillor Brenda Parkinson who said the funds could be directed to the Community Grants budget.

Councillors Rick Kasper and Kevin Pearson spoke in favour of donating the logs to non-profits, if such groups would have the skill and means to produce firewood from the large logs (and are covered by suitable liability insurance). That last option is what council approved. Certain groups in town will be more easily connected with logging skills than others, so it is a political tip of the hat to the loggers and firewood buffs in the community.


Jennifer Rice, BC Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness

Friday, October 13 ~ BC. “ShakeOutBC is a great opportunity to break from our routines, practice our earthquake response and take a moment to reflect on our level of preparedness,” says Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.

“We each have a duty to prepare our family and our community for emergencies.” We encourages people to participate in the Drop, Cover and Hold On drill on Oct 19.

BC sits in one of the world’s most seismically active regions, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded every year. Most are too small to be felt, but the risk of one being big enough to cause damage is real.

The best immediate response in an earthquake is to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Thousands of people practice this life-saving technique every year as part of the Great BC ShakeOut which is Canada’s largest earthquake drill.

Families, schools, businesses or organizations can register for ShakeOutBC at


SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge at the first board meeting of 2017-2018, his last full year on the job. [Photo by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News]

Tuesday, October 10 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge retiring after 36 years in education

Sooke School District 62 (SD62) Superintendent Jim Cambridge is retiring from his 36-year career. While that eventuality been known in education circles for a while, the formal announcement from the school board came October 4. Cambridge will begin his next adventures in August 2018.

With SD62 since 1981, Cambridge has been a classroom teacher and school administrator, as well as holding various administrative positions at the board office (in the top position as Superintendent and CEO since May 2009). As Superintendent, Cambridge has in recent years led schools, teachers, students and parents during an unprecedented growth period.

In August this year, his senior executive support expanded from two Assistant Superintendents to three, to keep up with student population growth which has now reached 10,400 as more families move to the west shore.

Back in January, Cambridge co-hosted the Canada 150 BC schools launch by BC Lt Governor Judith Guichon at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke.

Behind the scenes over the past few years, Cambridge was instrumental in various areas of discussion with the BC Government to help morph the understanding of school budgets and funding requirements.

Jim Cambridge is well liked and highly regarded both within SD62 and in the broader community. He’s in his element at the board table and always enjoys getting back into schools for visits. Cambridge has always seemed to enjoy the job despite its many challenges.

In his role at chief administrator, Cambridge has weathered various storms including teacher strikes, the construction of two new high schools in two years, and several years of budget cuts. Even the decision required to call a ‘snow day’ is also significant, as many sectors are impacted.

Keven Elder Consulting Services will recruit and select the next SD62 Superintendent and CEO. That process will begin with stakeholders this fall; the new posting for the position is expected in December.

=== Article first published on page 3 in the print/PDF edition of the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News

Saturday, October 7 ~ WEST SHORE. Duality in Greater Victoria real estate this fall season.  Real Estate Analysis by Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News

There’s been a stone-cold drop in activity and a significant cooling in prices in many average-price areas of the Greater Victoria real estate market in recent weeks.

But in three areas actual sales price averages jumped dramatically between August and September: Langford was up by $55,150, East Saanich was up by $42,565 and North Saanich prices skyrocketed by $152,407. Prices in high-end Oak Bay notably dropped by almost $94,000 (only post-peak stock may have been available).

In September there were 18.1% fewer properties sold than a year ago. East Saanich is normally the bell-weather of pricing trends, and Langford seems to be following suit.

The Victoria Real Estate Board says the market is “trending slowly towards more balanced conditions and overall price increases are levelling”. But their own stats tell a different story. The trend is not slow. prices are ‘acting out’, and the most stable areas (East Saanich and Langford) show distinct upward pressure.

Two Bank of Canada interest rate hikes this summer cut the legs out from under the lower end of the market, hurting entry-level buyers and sellers of modest homes.

Housing inventory rose in September 2017 (up 3.1% from August) as properties have become more difficult to sell. In the fast-growing City of Langford the actual sale price of single family homes surpassed $700,000 last month while Colwood and Sooke prices plummeted.

This article was first published in the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Friday, October 6 ~ SOOKE.  Somehow it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving long weekend in Sooke without the special turkey dinner with all the trimmings at Mom’s Cafe. This year being served on Sunday Oct 8 & Monday Oct 9.

$20.95 for the full turkey portion (8 oz) or $18.95 for ‘turkey lite’ (4 oz). Trimmings include mashed yams and potatoes, succotash vegetables, gravy, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce and dinner roll. Add a slice of their delicious pumpkin pie for $3.95.

Mom’s special Thanksgiving turkey dinner will be served 4pm to close.

Mom’s Cafe is at 2036 Shields Rd in Sooke. Tel: 250-642-3314.

Check out the old juke box in the lobby!

Wednesday, October 4 ~ SOOKE.  Recreation Job in Sooke. The CRD’s SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke has many active arena programs.

Recently they’ve been seeking a new Arena Team Leader to assist with on-ice leadership, teach classes as required, and assist with organizing special events. Also part of the job is to communicate with instructors, participants, parents and supervisors.

If you’re energetic, outgoing and responsible and can implement programs that are instructional, fun, exciting and maintained in a safe environment, then this job might be for you!

It’s part time, til approximately the end of the indoor ice season.

Here’s a direct link to the job posting on the CRD website:

Letter as sent to the District of Sooke from SAFARS

Saturday, September 30 ~ SOOKE.  Housing Affordability affects pets. As housing affordability and job stability continues to be a challenge for many families in BC, in turn there can be impacts on family pets. It’s a sad realization that some families will abandon their pets or surrender them to the BC SPCA if they can no longer afford to care for them. Sometimes the situation is that whatever rental accommodation is available restricts tenants from having pets.

Therein comes the need for rescue shelters, where dogs, cats and other domestic animals can be taken for continued care and re-homing, without the possible risk of euthanization. However, CRD and municipal bylaws in many cases frustrate and extinguish the efforts of enthusiastic animal rescue volunteers, mostly through the requirement of a significant amount of land for an animal shelter.

This battle is well known to followers of the news in Sooke, where for years the Victoria Pet Food Bank & Feral Cat Rehabilitation Society (aka SAFARS) has been trying to put their good will to work in rescuing cats in particular but also dogs. They supply donated pet food and supplies to low-income people for their pets, which in many cases means those people do not have to give up their animal companions.

A demonstration will be held on the BC Legislative grounds on Sunday October 15: the March for the Right to Have Animal Shelters will start at 1pm. The group is asking people to bring a sign affixed to your dog, saying “we need more animal shelters” and to join the march with them.  There is a petition that can be signed ahead of and at the March. See petition (click image to see larger version):


SAFARS says that puppy-mills/backyard breeders are flourishing in Sooke and that the BC-SPCA claims not to have legislation to stop the breeders.


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

Friday, September 29 ~ SOOKE. District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait is moving up the ranks among BC municipalities. At the 114th UBCM convention in Vancouver this week she was acclaimed 2nd Vice President on the UBCM executive. She’s the only Vancouver Island rep on the executive this year.

Tait and most of Sooke Council were at the convention this year. On the first morning, Tait attended the Funding for Local Governments presentation at UBCM, to hear a panel discussion on new and emerging program priorities in BC funding to municipalities in such areas as climate change and asset management.

Meeting with BC Health Minister Adrian Dix, Tait discussed Primary Health Care infrastructure in the Sooke Region. As
the Chairperson of the Sooke Region Primary Health Care Working Group, Tait has been working with stake-holders from across the region to advocate for a local Primary Care Home facility. That would create space for additional family physicians, allow for urgent care treatment with extended operating hours, and improved access to medical services without having to drive the not- always accessible Hwy 14.

The Sooke Region Primary Care Home initiative has garnered the support of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Hospitals and Housing Committee, and the CRD Board of Directors. Island Health reps have joined the Sooke Region Primary Health Care Working Group meetings. Tait feels that BC Health Ministry support would bring the Primary Care Home one step closer.

Mayor Tait took along her young son to the convention for the week in Vancouver, remarking after a few days at the positive support that having an on-site child care service is for women to stay plugged into their career activities.


The Sooke Library is presently in leased space on Anna Marie Road. [West Shore Voice News photo 2016]

Friday, September 22 ~ SOOKE.  Opening of the new Sooke Library has been pushed well into 2019.

Delays by the District of Sooke in acquiring and preparing the land on Wadams Way for development have pushed the timeline.

“Shovels in the ground” are expected by March 2018 with opening of a new 10,000 sqft ‘state of the art’ facility expected by spring 2019, it was stated in a VIRL news release on September 21.

Another public consultation session will be held once VIRL’s architect has prepared proposed designs. VIRL says Sooke’s new library remains a top priority.

Other obstacles have included “matters of health and safety” at the Sayward, Tahsis and Port McNeill branches. And Sooke’s library manager Adrienne Wass resigned earlier this year; another manager visits at the branch one day a week.



Sooke Food CHI has acquired an apple press like this one (sample photo).

Sunday, September 17 ~ SOOKE. Today lots of people will gather to celebrate the fall harvest season with a celebration about apples! 

The 4th Annual Sooke Apple Festival, hosted by the Sunriver Community Gardens and Orchard, will be held 10 am to 2 pm, at the Sunriver Community Gardens, 2380 Phillips Road. The family-friendly community gathering helps raise funds for the Sooke Region Food Community Health Initiative (Sooke Food CHI). Admission by donation. Parking available along Phillips Road.

All things apples includes apple sales, identification, bobbing, hand-pressed apple juice,  tasting and orchard tours. All of that backed by music (The Chick Wagon Band).

As an ongoing project, Sooke Food CHI has acquired an apple press with funds raised from last year’s event. Today press your own juice to take home. Bring at least 15 pounds of apples and your containers. Apples should be mature, washed, and must be free from decay. Containers should be wide mouthed with tight lids. Bring a cooler to store your juice.

The press will be further available for use at the Community Gardens during the fall. Check the website for dates:

The Apple Shack: The Apple Shack is the Apple Learning Centre. It was built in the summer of 2013. During Apple Fest, it will have displays and lots of information about apples and the Sunriver Community Orchard. Ann Aylard from BC’s Fruit Tree Testing organization will be on hand to help the public identify apple varietals from their property.
Fundraiser: The Apple Festival is a Sooke Food CHI fundraiser for the community orchard and other Food CHI activities.

Food vendors include Coastal Crunch, Three Sisters, Livin’ the Dream, Jenny’s Kitchen, Dakini Tidal Wilds, Buddha Box and the Coffee Cantina.  Games for families and kids are organized by Emily Moreland and friends, 11 am and 2 pm.


Monday, September 15 ~ SOOKE.   At their September 11 council meeting, Sooke council approved a motion put forward by Councillor Rick Kasper to express concurrence with Freedom Mobile for putting up a telecommunications tower at 2614 Otter Point Rd. “We can’t ignore these applications,” said Kasper. Councillor Kerrie Reay looked at the community’s technological needs as a whole and supported the motion. Chair Mayor Maja Tait cast the deciding vote in favour (her argument was about facilitating services in a digital age).

Councillors Ebony Logins, Brenda Parkinson and Kevin Pearson voted against the cell tower motion as their way of supporting extensive community protest about presumed health concerns and aesthetics in a rural area. Logins spoke to the power of communicating across governments and Pearson said some fundamental questions hadn’t been answered for him. “How far do we trust (Health Canada standards, for example) and when do we not trust and question (with reference to a salmon farm which did cause a problem after Sooke Council gave it a light touch in review)? Parkinson felt a municipal council doesn’t have to give concurrence for something they have no say in anyhow.

Sooke council renewed their contract with the Capital Regional District (CRD) for animal control services, at a cost of $6,786.50/mo, for an extended period to June 2019. Sooke is charged more per capita than other municipalities likely due to travel time. Most Sooke residents may not realize the cost to taxpayers for this service.

Councillor Pearson brought forward his concerns about prohibiting ocean-based salmon farming after about 175,000 Atlantic Salmon got loose into Pacific waters near Sooke. Council approved his motion to protect west coast salmon from invasive species. He also pushed for salmon farm concerns to be put forward to MP and MLA. He may bring Sooke Council’s concerns forward at the upcoming UBCM conference in Vancouver later this month as an emergency resolution.

Friday, September 15. Apples galore! This Sunday September 17 is the annual Apple Fest harvest celebration at Sunriver Gardens in Sooke.

The new element this year is an apple press! Event organizers Sooke Food CHI have acquired an apple pres. “We are very excited to share this with the community,” says organizer Anita Wasiuta.

After the launch on Sunday, September 17, the apple press will be available every Saturday from 10 to 2pm through to October 28 at the Sunriver Community Gardens. People can bring their own apples and containers. Tips are at for juicing your own apples.

Apple Fest has proven each year to be a popular family event. It’s an opportunity to celebrate fruit and growing one’s own food.

Activities include apple sales, apple identification, apple bobbing, hand-pressed apple juice, apple tasting, food vendors, and orchard tours as well as music and games.

Sunriver Community Gardens is a 2380 Phillips Road. Apple Fest will run from 10 am to 2 pm.

District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait [West Shore Voice News photo, 2017]

UPDATE Wednesday, September 13 – At their September 13 meeting, the CRD Board unanimously defeated the motion to approve the proposed trip to Europe.


Saturday, September 9 ~ SOOKE. District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait — as chair of the Integrated Resource Management (IRM) Advisory Committee of the CRD is one of three politicians who would travel to Europe to take a firsthand look at wastewater and integrated waste management systems.

There’s a public backlash about the cost compared to other ways to glean whatever information would be helpful and transferable to the Capital Regional District of Greater Victoria. The vote at her committee passed 6 to 5. Juan de Fuca Area Director Mike Hicks is on the IRM committee and he voted against the trip.

The motion goes next to the CRD Environment Committee on Wednesday September 13, and then further to the CRD Board. So it’s not a done deal yet.

Sooke has had a wastewater management system for over 10 years now. The peninsula also already treats its sewage. The core areas (Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Saanich) will come on stream with sewage treatment by the end of 2020.

CRD Chair Barb Desjardins points out that waste management is about more than sewage. Integration of managing waste requires looking at organics, biosolids, recycling, landfill issues, and more.

Friday, September 8 ~ SOOKE. The Sooke Fall Fair is coming up this weekend, September 9 and 10, at Sooke Community Hall.  Details at

Bike locker space can be rented at the Sooke Park & Ride.

Saturday, September 2 ~ SOOKE.  Eager to avoid commuter stress, ride the #61 bus into town in comfort, and get some before- and after-work exercise?

Space is currently available for four bikes in Transition Sooke’s bike lockers in the BC Transit park-and-ride on Sooke Rd at Sooke River Rd. Rental is $10/month/bike or, for those who’d prefer an annual lease, $100 per year. Renters get a key for 24/7 access.

The well-lit Sooke Park & Ride services bus routes 61, 63 and 64, with 99 vehicle parking stalls and the two bike lockers, plus bike racks.

The lockers were installed in 2011 through the efforts of the Juan de Fuca Cycling Coalition’s Stephen Hindrichs and colorfully decorated by EMCS art students, says Jeff Bateman of Transition Sooke.

Bike locker inquiries by email: