SOOKE – Local News

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


 

CURRENT HEADLINES: SOOKE REGION


 

Premier John Horgan with the ‘four Newmans’, in Sooke August 19 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, August 19 ~ SOOKE.  Today in Sooke, Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) held his annual ‘Hot Dogs, Hamburgers & Horgan’ summer barbecue at the Sooke River campground.  [View this article on its own page]

About 250 people attended the event that was hosted by the Langford-Juan de Fuca Constituency Association. There was a buffet lunch, speeches and cake. The weather was comfortably warm under slightly hazy ‘smoky-air’ skies.

Among the crowd were many long-time NDP-ers who did some considerable groundwork to build the NDP force in the riding over the years. Also some new-to-Sooke folks. And of course many local and regional political VIPs including MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin); Sooke Mayor Maja Tait; Juan de Fuca Director Mike Hicks; Sooke Councillors Brenda Parkinson and Rick Kasper; former Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne (now with the BC Transit board); SD62 School Board trustees Ravi Parmar, Bob Phillips, and Neil Poirier; and former MLA Moe Sihota.

Horgan was eager to pose with “the four Newmans of Sooke”: two Ediths, with Paul and Victor [see photo].

Premier John Horgan chatting with former Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne and Wendy Milne, August 19, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

The recently deceased Kay Mitchell (wife of long-time NDP MLA Frank Mitchell) was honoured in speeches by Bob Phillips, Moe Sihota and Premier Horgan. Sihota  called Kay Mitchell an icon of the community, constituency and political party saying she was philosophically impacted by the Great Depression (and how people suffered from the hard-nosed aspects of economic victimization) and World War II (with the need to build a better life). Kay held true to values and committed to the cause, he said.

Maureen Mitchell-Starkey (one of Kay and Frank’s two daughters) said afterward she was pleased with the kind words about her mother Kay, who recently passed away from cancer at age 91. Mitchell-Starkey has had a long career working for the provincial NDP.

Premier John Horgan went over some old history of how the NDP came to hold the riding, and touched briefly on some current political issues such as the upcoming referendum on proportional representation. He touched on a few of the local successes of his first year in office including improvements to Highway 14 upon which Sooke depends as a commuter-community.

Horgan reiterated the power of public education as “the great equalizer” and lauded “the power of great engaged teachers”, noting that the local SD62 board of education that guides education in the west shore is one of the fastest growing school districts in the province.

Horgan is back from about two weeks of vacation, and next week heads to Prince George to see some of the wildfire zone that BC is presently struggling with under a state of emergency.

There were lots of photo ops for Horgan fans, and selfies of course.

Security included each guest being asked to wear a wristband after signing in.

A small display table with information about proportional representation was presented by Fair Vote Canada.


Four firefighters (2 from Sooke, 1 from Metchosin, 1 from Langford) before heading to Fort St James, August 14. [Langford FD photo]

Wednesday, August 15 ~ LANGFORD/SOOKE. Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey this morning around 8:30 am just received word that a joint team of firefighters from Langford, Sooke and Metchosin had arrived safely in Fort St James after a 14-hour drive.

“Sooke was requested by the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) to provide a fire engine and crew to Fort St James yesterday morning,” says Chief Aubrey. “Sooke, Metchosin and Langford partnered together last year by sending 1 to 2 firefighters each at a time to make up a 4-person crew. This allowed us to help while not depleting our resources locally and it worked extremely well.”

“We decided to continue that partnership and there are two Sooke firefighters, one Metchosin firefighter and one Langford firefighter on the current deployment using a Sooke fire engine,” said Chief Aubrey today August 15.

The team was to depart as soon as possible after the OFC call and they left for the interior at 5pm, August 14. “No doubt will be receiving their orders shortly, but their primary role will be structure protection of any homes or businesses,” explains Langford’s fire chief.

“They are all volunteer firefighters who have taken time off work to head to the interior and it was incredible to see so many of our local volunteers drop everything to go and help out another community in need,” says Aubrey. He says that each deployment period will be seven days and that the three fire departments will continue to send joint teams as long as the province needs firefighters.

After Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount received a resource request from the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), a call was put out to the Sooke volunteer fire department membership. “We put a call out to our membership and deployed two Sooke Firefighters (firefighter Rod Davis and firefighter Brandon Knowles), up to Fort St. James yesterday afternoon on Sooke’s Engine 3,” says Sooke FD communications rep Julie Barlow. Also now in Fort St James are Lieutenant Gord Grivel (Metchosin Fire) and Keith Detlor (Langford Fire).

The group photo, pictured left to right: Brandon Knowles (Sooke), Gord Grivel (Metchosin), Rod Davis (Sooke) and Keith Detlor (Langford).


 

Fort St James is in the north-central part of BC.

Tuesday, August 14 ~ METCHOSIN. Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop and members of the Metchosin Fire Department arrived in Fort St James in north-central BC this evening. They’re helping out with an extreme wildfire scenario there.

Members of the Sooke and Langford fire departments are also helping out with efforts at wildfire suppression in the area. [Sooke FD update to come]

Fort St James has been on evacuation alert since Saturday August 11. Now, nearly the 1,600 residents of Fort Saint James are being urged to prepare for evacuation if the forest fires come closer to the community.

The Shovel Lake fire is estimated to be 31,500 hectares and currently raging about 35 km away from the western border of Fort Saint James.


 

Sunday, August 12 ~ METCHOSIN. UPDATE at 9:30 pm – Hwy 14 is now open.

[First posting at 3:30 pm / updated 5:45 pm]: Road closure of Highway 14 (Sooke Road) in both directions from about 2 pm to probably mid-evening, due to vehicle crash in the Metchosin stretch of that highway between Langford and Sooke.

It was a single-vehicle crash, resulting in minor injuries, said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop. Attending on scene were Metchosin Fire Dept, BC Ambulance Service, RCMP, and BC Hydro.

As of 5 pm still awaiting TELUS crews to come deal with lines down. Detours at Happy Valley Road and Kangaroo Road. www.drivebc.ca


 

Friday, August 10 ~ SOOKE.  Sooke municipality busy with meetings in August.

While things are pretty quiet in most municipalities of the west shore during the summer months, the District of Sooke has an active slate of meetings scheduled in this last half of August:
• Regular Council | Mon Aug 13, 7pm
• Development & Land Use Ctte | Wed Aug 15, 10 am
• Affordable Housing Ctte | Thurs Aug 23, 1 pm
• Sooke Program of the Arts Ctte | Wed Aug 29, 5:30 pm

A candidate information session was held in Sooke on August 1. Nominations for the positions of Mayor and Councillor (six seats) officially open with Elections BC on September 4.


 

Roundabout in Sooke, ahead of the BC Day long weekend, August 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, August 6 ~ SOOKE ~ at the roundabout. The central landscaped area of the roundabout was dressed up with dozens of little flags to help with the festive energy of BC Day long weekend.

A fire five years ago (July 31, 2013) destroyed the previous building at the front portion of the Evergreen Shopping Centre.

The large Partners REIT sign outside Evergreen Shopping Centre this summer in Sooke says ‘Proposed New Development’, with suggested commercial units of 1,000 to 4,200 sf. Frontage there in 6600-block Sooke Road at the roundabout in town centre would be ideal for suitable retail shops or offices.

The roundabout was installed in 2015. The roundabout project was a partnership between the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the District of Sooke. The Province contributed $6 million and the District of Sooke contributed $3.1 million.

Development potential: frontage at Evergreen Shopping Centre, Sooke [West Shore Voice News photo Aug 3, 2018]

The completion of Sooke Town Centre improvements in 2015 was said in a government news release at the time to be important for the community toward reducing GHG emissions, improving storm water quality, increasing safety for all commuters, and providing an inviting environment for residents.

[An earlier, shorter version of this article was published on page 3 in the August 3, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News . The print edition is for sale on the newsstand at Shoppers Drug Mart, Sooke.]


 

RCMP Musical Ride at Saanich Fairgrounds in 2013 [West Shore Voice News file photo]

Sunday, August 5 ~ SOOKE. The RCMP Musical Ride was last on Vancouver Island in 2017 at Royal Roads in Colwood as part of Canada 150 Celebrations, and before that in 2013 at the Saanich Fairgrounds.

“This time around we wanted to do something special for Sooke,” says former Sooke RCMP Detachment Commander Steve Wright who is now retired, living in Sooke, and volunteering with the Sooke Lions Club.

About 20 people are helping organize the event, including members of the two Lions Clubs and Lioness Club in the area. The Sooke Community Association is participating with the event as it is occurring at Fred Milne Park. “As well we have involved people outside of our club as well for their expertise in specific areas,” says Wright.

The matinee on Saturday August 18 will start at 2 pm (gates open at noon). The sunset performance on Sunday August 19 sees the gates open at 4 pm for the 6 pm show, concluding close to the 8:20 pm sunset.

“The musical ride is a long-standing tradition in the RCMP and is well known around the world,” says Wright. “Members who are successful in getting on the ride travel around Canada and the world representing our iconic Force.”

RCMP officers participating in the formal equestrian showcase make an exclusive three-year commitment — no other policing duties. Transferring to Ottawa, members train for about a year, then travel for two more. Members apply and then must pass a one-month equestrian course.

Horses mainly travel in tractor trailer units. For overseas travel, they fly. Horses are trained from an early age to travel and the horses all take it in stride.

Special memories from Saanich in 2013: “We raised a lot of money for two children’s charities ($65,000). We had a lot of fun working with other Lions Clubs to put on an amazing two-day event that is affordable for families,” said Wright.
“It is very special for us to host a world class event in Sooke. We have tried to sell as many tickets as possible in Sooke prior to selling them elsewhere,” he said this week. Tickets are available in Sooke at Shoppers, Pharmasave and the RCMP Detachment; also at Willow Wind Feed in Langford and Esquimalt Dry Cleaners.

As a treat for local seniors, two RCMP Members and their horses will make a special visit to Ayre Manor in Sooke town centre where they will talk to the residents and display the horses to people who may not be able to attend the crowd-size performances.

The National Band of the Naval Reserve will perform both days as the pre-show entertainment. The band will also do a free concert in Sooke on Sunday August 12 at Ed Macgregor Park, 2 pm.

There are 2,200 tickets to be sold for each performance. Portable bleachers and some chairs will be the available seating; people will not be allowed to bring their own lawn chairs due to limited room. “We are not using the artificial turf. We will be using the lower field closest to Sooke Road,” says Wright.

Planning for this event started five years ago right after the Musical Ride in Saanich. “We applied to host the Musical Ride immediately following our last show. We started our planning sessions for the event in Sooke in January 2018 when we were awarded the Musical Ride, says Wright. Premier John Horgan along is planning to attend one of the performances.

Organizers suggest buying tickets ahead of time, not wait until the August 18 and 19 performance days. All tickets $5. There will be a food concession and RCMP Musical Ride merchandise for sale — cash only. All profits go to the Canadian Cancer Society / Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.

More info: | Facebook: SookeMusicalRide | Twitter: @musicalride2018  | Email: sookemusicalride@hotmail.com

This article was first published in the August 3, 2018 Print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News (page 4)


 

Saturday, August 4 ~ BC. Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in celebration of BC Day:

“On BC Day, the Government of British Columbia is joining people who are coming together to celebrate this beautiful province that we are so lucky to live in.

“British Columbia has been shaped by the people who have come together to help build and protect this extraordinary place. Our communities are made great by the talent and ingenuity of the people who live here, and by the values of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect that bring us together.

“As we celebrate BC, we recognize our shared responsibility to advance reconciliation together with Indigenous peoples who have lived on this land since time immemorial, and to work together to right historical wrongs and build a better future.

“Let’s take the time to celebrate what we love about British Columbia. Visit a local farmers market, community event, go hiking or camping, or spend time with friends and family.

“We’re going to keep investing in people and working to make life better, with more opportunities for every person in every part of the province. I’m excited for the bright future ahead – for everyone in BC. Happy BC Day!”


 

Single Family Home sales averages in the west shore and Greater Victoria, for July 2018 compared to June 2018 [click on image for larger view]

Thursday, August 2 ~ WEST SHORE. Greater Victoria area real estate stats for the month of July 2018 were released yesterday by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Let’s start with the basics.

In the west shore, the average sale price of single family homes sold in Langford was $723,388 (48 sales) which is up by $29,219 from June. In Colwood the average was $774,180 (22 sales) which is down by $13,395 from June. In Sooke the average sale price was $552,100 (21 sales) which down by $26,536 from the June average sale.

For overall Greater Victoria the average sale was $929,543 in July 2018. Other than in February of this year, the average house price in GV this year has been above $900,000 (Jan $925,715, Feb $876,397, March $903,052, April $917,793 May $921,046).

Sales volume this year increased steadily from January (431) to May (755) then edged lower in June (708) and July (651). Summer is traditionally a slower sales period after the springtime burst usually seen March-May each year as homeowners with families try to set up summer move dates ahead of school starting in September or generally take advantage of good summer weather for moving.

Notably, the inventory of properties for sale has steady increased each month in 2018. From a lowpoint of 1,384 properties for sale at year-end 2017, inventory in January at 1,481 grew month by month to 2,607 in July 2018. The market supply is being replenished. This results from a few different factors: prices are high and going higher; the mortgage stress-test has eliminated easy fluidity for low-end sellers and first-time buyers; and the economy is some ways more uncertain (tariffs affecting some industries and the cost of living in general).

As well, uncertainty has resulted for the higher-end sector by their reaction to the looming BC Speculation Tax which has already chilled the interest of buyers in the higher end of the market. Those same factors that the current BC government hopes will free up more housing are in fact creating market uncertainty that is beginning to spook some development projects, which perhaps have minimized, slowed or even been cancelled. BC housing policy that ramps up construction of affordable housing projects is numerically achieving ‘roofs over heads’ for people at the low end of socioeconomic scale – a good thing. But for people looking to buy a regular home with regular income, the prospects are not likely to improve under current conditions.

Last month condos sold in Langford on average broke the $400,000 price point, selling at $407,343. In Colwood in July condos sold at a whopping $532,450 (more than $100,000 higher than the June average). Condo product is infrequently available in Sooke (no sales in June or July). Condos overall in Greater Victoria in July sold at $474,924 which is drop of over $10,000 from June.

In the townhome market in July, the overall average dropped by over $52,000 from June to July 2018, setting at $563,718 in July. In Langford the average was $486,473, in Colwood $671,880, and in Sooke $563,718.


 

Construction zone for August 2, 2018 on Hwy 14 west of the 4-lane section. [Click to see larger image]

Thursday, August 2 ~ SOOKE.  Highway 14 Traffic Alert. Maintenance work will take place on the westbound portion of Sooke Road (Highway 14) between 7pm and 9pm this evening, Thursday August 2.

The work will take place approximately 1.5 km west of the 4-lane section. Westbound traffic will be stopped for brief duration periods (5-7 minutes) while repair work commences.

The area that the repair work will take place is confined and has poor sight distance. Please drive with extreme caution and obey all construction signs and Traffic Control Person direction.

This notice was released by Mainroad South Island.


 

Wednesday, August 1 ~ SOOKE. The free community event Sooke Music & Art Festival will be held on Saturday, August 4 in Sooke, outdoors at 2197 Otter Point Rd in John Phillips Memorial Park, behind SpeedSource Fitness.

There will be two stages, featuring music acts by 12 bands.  Vendor Village, food vendors, kids play area and other activities on site.

The family-friendly event starts 11 am and runs to about 10 pm (last band plays at 9 pm).

Includes demos by Art in the Park, including Linda Gordon of the Sooke Arts Council teaching “How to do Acrylic Painting” ( all paints and canvas provided, sign up on site).

More: www.sookemusicfestival.com 


Sunday, July 29 ~ SOOKE. Check out the July 27 issue of West Shore Voice News for how a new professional soccer team is coming to the west shore (page 1).

This week’s editorial is about the stubbornly persistent discrimination against women in business and politics (page 2).

Coverage of the Artists Celebration at the Sooke Fine Arts Show is on page 3.

The super-hot weather is subsiding a bit coming into this first week of August. The Weather Network shows temperatures more in the 20°C range instead of soaring up new 30°C like we saw this past week (page 4).


 

Premier John Horgan at the 32nd Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show, July 28 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, July 28 ~ SOOKE. Premier John Horgan feels right at home at the Sooke Fine Arts Show. He attends the Saturday night Artists Celebration evening just about every year.

Mingling for almost two hours after the formal presentation of awards to artists, an endless stream of people approached Horgan as they meandered through the nicely appointed art exhibit.

There were compliments, questions and comments for the popular Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA who became BC’s 36th Premier just over a year ago.

But don’t touch the art, John!

::: PHOTO July 28 at the 32nd Annual Sooke Fine Arts Show: Premier John Horgan admires a 3D piece created with glass, steel, driftwood, and rocks featuring swimming salmon, called Flow+Cycle/Home by Christopher Smith.

View this article on its own page


 

Sooke Fine Arts Show 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, July 27 ~ SOOKE. The 32 annual Sooke Fine Arts Show (SFAS) opened today in Sooke.  [View this article on its own page]

The show is presented for 11 days — July 27 to August 6 — within the SEAPARC Leisure Complex arena which becomes transformed into a professional exhibit space.

Items that sold last night at the Purchaser’s Preview event were mostly paintings, and a few 3D pieces.

A full house was achieved last night, with ticket-holders including sponsors, community leaders and the general public. “It was a very social mix,” says SFAS Executive Director Christa Rossner.

“These people come out to support the arts community,” says Jen Hayward, Administrative Coordinator.

“We’ve opened up the show floor, so it feels more open when you first come in,” says SFAS President Geraldine McGuire. First in the sight line this year is the Gift Shop, instead of the information booth which is now off to the left of the entry.

Of the 380 art pieces in the show this year, there is the usual range of genres including paintings, photography, fabric art, sculpture, jewelry, woodwork, pottery and more.

Each year there are three new jurors who sort through all the submissions and select final pieces for the show. This year’s jurors are Nick Bantock, Lee Gass and Wendy Welch.

This year there are repeating themes in soft, pastel blue-grey tones that are punctuated in other sections by oranges, reds and bright tones. A distinctly ‘enjoy the bright colours’ section is presented in the far back corner, perhaps adding an energy lift for the return walk through the rest of the show and back to the main gathering space that includes a little seating area with a stage where live music is played pretty much throughout the show hours (10 am to 7pm most days).

Compared to the past several years, there seems to be slightly less pottery and jewelry, and more paintings. One piece that elicited delight from people passing by was a collection of felt salmon hanging from a line. People also seemed quite interested in carved furniture (including a coffee table and chest). One painting was a direct take-off from the style of Ted Harrison. Bright red flower paintings, photos, sculpture art and fabric pieces are vibrantly placed to visually pop up as the show is toured.

Show details: www.sookefinearts.com


 

Sunday, July 22 ~ SOOKE. SEAPARC announces facility redesign. A concept design for the expansion of the SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke has been approved by the The Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission (SEAPARC) board, it was announced July 20 by the Capital Regional District (CRD).

“The Commission is very excited that after 10 years of discussion we are close to building a fantastic fitness facility for our residents,” said Mike Hicks, SEAPARC Chair.

“Careful consideration is being given to the location of the expansion,” says Steve Knoke, SEAPARC Manager. The new facility will be flexible, efficient and work with SEAPARC’s existing site. “SEAPARC wants to create an open inviting and accessible place for our residents to improve their health and wellness,” says Knoke.

In April 2018, SEAPARC Leisure Complex received a $1.24 million grant from the Strategic Priorities Federal Gas Tax Fund. This grant together with SEAPARC’s capital funding is being used to invest in the new $2.75 million fitness facility and multi-purpose expansion space. Property taxpayers in both the District of Sooke and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area contribute an annual levy to SEAPARC.

The project architect is Studio 531 Architects Inc. The preliminary design phase now includes concept review and considerations around physical location, ease of customer access, administration and operations effectiveness, and efficient use of existing facility resources.

The proposed site is on the west side of the existing SEAPARC building, adjacent to the current multi-purpose rooms and board room. Construction is expected to run 11 months in 2019 (February through December). More details: www.crd.bc.ca/project/capital-projects/seaparc-leisure-complex-expansion

> As first published on page 3 in the July 20, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
https://westshorevoicenews.com/printnews-online/2018-COURTESYWATERMARKEDedition-WestShoreVOICENews-V3N38&SVN-V8N27_CABINETSHUFFLEIssue-CopyrightWESTSHOREVOICENEWS-July20th18.pdf


 

Saturday, July 21 ~ SOOKE.  On Sunday July 22 there’s a free art show and car show combo at the Sooke River Campground, 10 am to 2 pm.

Organized by the Sooke Community Arts Council and the Sooke Fall Fair group, the combined event is a relaxing opportunity to appreciate local arts and hobbies.

Booths and tables with arts and crafts for sale. Cars on display.

www.sookefinearts.com | www.sookefallfair.ca


 

Fire prohibition areas in the Coastal Fire Centre, effective noon July 18, 2018

Tuesday, July 17 ~ On Wednesday, July 18 at noon, all open burning (including campfires and Category 3 fires) will be prohibited within the Coastal Fire Centre, with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the fog zone.

Category 2 open burning is already prohibited in the region. The additional prohibitions will help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. They will remain in effect until Oct. 19, 2018, or until the public is otherwise notified. A map of the affected areas is available online at: http://ow.ly/j94230kZQgz

the fire prohibitions are due to high temperatures and no rain in the immediate forecast. Since April 1 of this year, 69% of wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre have been caused by people. Human-caused wildfires are considered to be entirely preventable, and can divert critical firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires.

These prohibitions apply to all public and private land, unless specified otherwise – for example, in a local government bylaw. Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

In Sooke, their prohibition announcement came out this afternoon, specifying that their ban applies to all open burning including campfires, beach fires and backyard fire pits within the District of Sooke. Burn barrels are prohibited year-round. “Propane and gas fueled BBQ’s and campfires are still permitted but are to be used with caution and only in appropriate areas,” says Matt Barney, Assistant Fire Chief, Sooke Fire Department.

CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes and portable campfire apparatus (using briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel) are okay in the Coast Fire Centre, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 cm in height.

The following activities are also prohibited:
* open fires that burn woody debris in outdoor stoves
* the use of stoves and other portable campfire apparatuses that are not CSA-approved or ULC-approved
* the use of tiki torches, fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, chimineas, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
* the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the U.S.-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

Wildfire news on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo and on Facebook at
http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo


 

Orca Whale (L79). Vessels to now keep their distance from whales.

Friday, July 13 ~ BC.  Keeping a distance from whales: new regulations.  Whales and other marine mammals are the subject of new Canadian regulations (previously recommendations) by which boaters are to maintain certain distances or be faced with hefty fines.The new rules that came into effect July 11 require boaters to maintain a 100-metre buffer zone (200 metres for orcas).

Under the Fisheries Act, penalties range from $100,000 to $500,000. Repeat offences could result in a higher fine amount or even imprisonment, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The new rules will impact the on-water tourism industry, particularly whale-watching excursions. Vessels must stay out of the path of oncoming whales out to 400 yards (366 m). Vessels may not intercept a whale or be positioned in the path of a whale.

Among other reasons, the proximity of loud motorized vessels is thought to interfere with the ability of whales to communicate with each other for feeding or maintaining pod cohesion.

In BC, the orca is an iconic aspect of regional arts and culture, tourism, and Indigenous culture.


 

West Coast Natural Foods in Sooke is now open 7 days a week. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, July 13 ~ SOOKE. West Coast Natural Foods in Sooke is now open seven days a week. Their first full Sunday business day was last weekend.

Popular with both locals and tourists at their 5-6716 West Coast Road location (just west of Otter Point Road in the same mall as Pharmasave), West Coast Natural Foods is now in its 15th year.

Store owner Karam feels it’s important to serve a full-weekend clientele who enjoy the availability of a wide range of vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements as well as the natural foods, cereals, snacks and other items like candles and oils.

The new business hours are 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday and now Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.

For more info on what products are available at West Coast Natural Foods, the phone number is 250-642-4011.


 

Location of the wildfire near Tugwell Creek, in the vicinity of Sooke, BC (shown in yellow area on map). [Map screenshot: BC Wildfire Service, July 9, 2018]

Monday, July 9 ~ SOOKE. The wildfire at Tugwell Creek is now 100% contained, as of mid-morning Monday July 9. The fire was first detected at a size of 4 hectares on July 2 and reached 84 hectares at its largest active point.

“Crews are working inward from the perimeter, doing mop-up activities,” says Juan de Fuca Emergency Coordinator Jeri Grant today, July 9.

Yesterday on Sunday July 8, there were still 63 firefighters, two pieces of heavy equipment, seven water tenders, and two helicopters on site, for attending to the active wildfire.

The fire event is now called ‘non active’ by the BC Wildfire Service. Mopping-up including looking for hot spots and putting those out. That process can take one to two weeks with ground crews, heavy equipment and water tenders, says Grant.

Some BC Wildfire information last week showed the burned area to be as much as 100 hectares. “But the area that burned out didn’t get beyond 84 hectares,” says Grant.  “It looked larger than that with all the smoke, but once helicopters got up in the air Friday morning, the 84-hectare area was confirmed.

Smoke from the fire reached into parts of Greater Victoria for a few days during the most active burning period.


 

New LED directional arrows were installed in June on Hwy 14 along challenging curves [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, July 8 ~ SOOKE. The current online survey about improvements to Highway 14 (Sooke Rd) is available online to July 15 at www.gov.bc.ca/highway14 or comments can be emailed: highway14@gov.bc.ca

Is the approach to encouraging public transit use (six new bus pullouts) the right approach for major expenditure? There have also been recent improvements with lighting, safety signage, speed readers, and line painting plus specific bridge improvements and work along Otter Point Road.

Are crosswalks working well in town centre? What about the no-left-turns at Townsend Road that have impacted business and community — can that be reversed? Are there enough signalized intersections (in addition to the one coming at Sooke River Road)?

What about the confusing road name change to West Coast Road after you’re west of Otter Point Road?

With the Premier being MLA for the area that includes Highway14-dependent Sooke, this is an optimal time for input.

This online opportunity for input follows the walkabout display-board public input event that was held at EMCS in Sooke last month.

>> This article first published in the July 6, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Saturday, July 7 ~ JUAN DE FUCA. As of 11:25 am today Saturday July 7, the Tugwell Creek fire west of Sooke is being held (unlikely to spread) at 80% contained.

Resources today include 88 firefighters, seven water tenders, heavy equipment and three helicopters says #BCwildfire | @BCGovFireInfo

The fire is on private forestry land. A nearby beekeeper’s operation is apparently not adversely affected. Smoke has periodically reached into the Greater Victoria area contributing to grey skies and minor air quality issues for some residents.


 

Thursday, July 5 ~ JUAN de FUCA. [UPDATE at 11:30 pm July 5 – fire partially contained, size is 84 hectares.]

The size of the wildfire area at Tugwell Creek was up to 100 hectares as of late last night. It’s one of 54 fires currently listed as a ‘fire of note’ in BC. BC Wildifre crews will be on scene again today, with the continued use of planes dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water.

The fire that started July 2 somehow became ignited in an area of timber leftovers from logging (known as ‘slash’).

See the Juan de Fuca page for further updates on this wildfire.


 

Tuesday, July 3 ~ VICTORIA AREA / West Shore focus. The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) said that in June the uncertainty of the real estate market has produced predictability, i.e. lower overall volume of sales. Their news release this month concentrated almost entirely on inventory levels and government pressures on the market.

But the elephant in the room is the ever-increasing housing prices in the Greater Victoria area. Last month the single family home average sale price was $889,097.

In the West Shore, which is considered affordable, in June the average house sale price was creeping closer to $600,000 in Sooke, was nearly $700,000 in Langford, and is creeping up toward $800,000 in Colwood. Condo prices are holding under the $400,000 price point in Langford. Here are the June 2018 prices for Langford, Colwood and Sooke (compared to the Greater Victoria average):

Single Family Homes:
Langford 60 sales     $694,169
Colwood 12 sales     $787,575
Sooke 26 sales         $578,646
GV 317 sales            $889,097

Condos:
Langford 40 sales     $378,655
Colwood 4 sales       $428,250
Sooke                       no sales
GV 229 sales            $485,158

Townhomes:
Langford 14 sales     $608,900
Colwood 6 sales       $723,250
Sooke 6 sales           $425,767
GV 77 sales              $615,919

A total of 708 properties sold in the Victoria region region this June, which is 29.8% fewer than the 1,008 properties sold in June last year, and a 6.2% drop from May 2018. The condominium sales tally was down 25.1% compared to June 2017 with 230 units sold, while the single family home sales volume was down 34.7% from 2017 with 357 sold this June.

Kyle Kerr, VREB President points to the mortgage stress test as a key impact on sales declines: “Because of decelerating growth due to aggressive government implementation of policies to reduce demand, Victoria’s real estate market has been hobbled since the start of the year when federal restrictions around mortgage qualifications were rolled out. Even demand side measures that are not yet live,” said Kerr, referring to the BC Speculation Tax that is specific to the Vancouver/Kelowna/Nanaimo/Capital Region which he says are dragging the market down as many consumers stand aside to watch what happens.”

No mention that the biggest brunt of cooling the housing market hits people least able to afford it — entry level buyers and the owners of homes at the lower-end price point. When gainfully employed people can’t buy a home, they end up near the top end of the rental market which is expensive and also displaces other renters.

There were 2,595 active listings for sale on the VREB MLS at the end of June 2018. That’s up 8.4% compared to the previous month, and 35.5% more than the 1,915 active listings for sale at the end of June 2017. Last year with the specter of rising interest rates and the pending stress test, housing inventory was rapidly depleted.

Listed properties are lingering longer on the market than usual, Kerr said. “The slower pace of the market has created more time for buyers who may have been hesitant to jump in during the high pressure market conditions of recent years.”

The development community has been hoping to see more supply. “If we see more listings over the next few months we may be heading back into a more balanced market situation,” Kerr said in the VREB news release.


 

Tuesday, July 3 ~ SOOKE. The District of Sooke is participating in the BC Communities in Bloom (CiB) program for the eighth time this summer. Two judges will be hosted during Monday July 16 through Wednesday July 18, including a tour and various events and meals.

The judges will evaluate the Sooke community on six criteria, consisting of: • Tidiness • Environmental Action • Heritage Conservation • Urban Forestry • Landscape • Floral Displays.

Coordinated by the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee, the judges will travel within Sooke, accompanied by municipal representatives as tour guides who will highlight various new and innovative improvements to the town, The focus of evaluation will include: Municipal, Business and Institutions, Residential and Community Involvement.

Transportation issues for Sooke residents as commuters to work and education in locations outside of Sooke could impact the decisions about business and institutions.

In previous years the tour has included locations such as Sooke Region Museum, Sunriver Community Gardens, Sooke Harbour House, Sooke River Campground, and much more. The roundabout in Sooke town center is likely to be a highlight this year, as a central point around which the town now identifies. As well, the site of the future new Sooke Library on Wadams Way (along with the new designs as unveiled in May) is likely to be a highlight for the judges.

Greenery is tough in the middle of a hot dry summer but the evaluation is not all about landscaping or flowers. The provincial CiB uses the tagline “People, Plants and Pride…Growing Together” and describes itself as “a province-wide recognition and bloom award program providing a framework for municipal participants to reinvigorate and enhance their communities liveability.”

Enhancing Community Livability is stated as a top strategic priority of District of Sooke Council. Mayor Maja Tait was quoted today in a news release: “The Communities in Bloom program is an excellent opportunity to promote the landscaped and natural beauty of Sooke. Sooke’s participation also allows us to come together with community organizations, business owners and individuals to celebrate the many progressive environmental, beautification, and cultural enrichment activities of our community.”

Tait acknowledges her “gratitude” to members of the Sooke Program of the Arts Committee, as well as the community volunteers, businesses and residents of Sooke who have participated this year.

Sooke has received the highest rating of “5 Blooms” (80% or better) for the last four evaluation years, but those years were not consecutive. One year was missed, for reasons of budget and visual interruption due to construction of the roundabout.

The District of Sooke is the only town or community on Vancouver Island that is participating in the provincial program this year.


 

SD62, West Shore Voice

SD62 board meeting June 26 — last of the 2017-2018 academic year, and the last for Superintendent Jim Cambridge who retires July 31, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, June 30 ~ WEST SHORE. SD62 hears from 58% of their employees. [Read this article on its own page]

At their June 26 board meeting, the Sooke School District (SD62) board heard the preliminary results of a workforce engagement (employment satisfaction) survey done by the BC Government.

As reported out with stats and display graphics by Public Sector Research and Evaluation Manager Angela Matheson, it was shown that about 58% of SD62 employees participated.

Some key findings included — as might be expected within the teaching profession — that ‘organizational commitment’ was high, while overall organizational satisfaction showed a range of results.

A hybrid analysis found some things that appeared to be red flags for senior administration: 8% of respondents were pegged as ‘minimally engaged’, with another 6% as ‘disengaged’. Some interesting categories of ‘happily detached’ (8%) and also ‘unhappily dedicated’ (7%) were considered to be anomalies.

Generally speaking, job stability and pay levels were not contentious issues, as compared to the general base of public sector employees.

The survey was thought to be important at this time, as a significant number of new teachers have joined SD62 in the past year or two, and are therefore at the start of their employment curve with SD62 which is one of the largest employers in the west shore.

As might be expected, participation rates in the survey were lowest (23%) for teachers were are on-call (i.e. not full time). Those who work within SD62’s Westshore Centre for Learning and Training who work extensively with online technology and deal more directly with the workforce and a range of learning scenarios, showed the highest survey participation rate (90%).

The last survey of a similar nature was done by the school board back in 2003. Trustee Margot Swinburnson said she hoped this sort of information would be acquired more regularly. Trustee Denise Riley said the survey idea was initiated by senior administrative staff, to which Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull responded with a comment that the “morale and health” of the organization required some quantification with a baseline. Superintendent Jim Cambridge said that “engaged, happy, satisfied employees” are the goal.

:::: This article first published in the June 29, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.


 

Friday, June 29 ~ The District Sooke Lioness group is holding a garage/yard sale to raise funds for their many causes including supports for women and children in need, literacy programs, and Christmas bureau hampers.

The garage sale is coming up next weekend on Saturday July 7, at 1646 Winnifred Place, in Sooke.  From 9 am to 1 pm that day.


 

Thursday, June 28 ~ SOOKE.

Just a reminder that Friday June 29 is the deadline to sign up for taking summer courses with the Westshore Centre for Learning & Training (SD62). Courses are in various Grade 8 to 12 subject areas.

Great for buffing up that mark for post-secondary entrance, or filling in a timetable gap while still in high school.

Also open to working adults who need to finish their Grade 12 diploma.

See: www.westshorecentre.com


 

Saturday, June 23 ~ SOOKE. Sooke Fine Arts gets Destination BC grant funding. 

The Sooke Fine Arts Society has received a Destination BC Tourism and Events Program (TEP) grant providing a large funding influx for the purchase of additional advertising to promote their 32nd annual Sooke Fine Arts Show which runs July 27 to August 6.

The expanded marketing reach now includes TV and radio, The Vancouver Sun, and large digital signage boards.

This is “to a level that would not otherwise be available to us as a non-profit organization,” says Christa Brenan, Executive Director, Sooke Fine Arts Society. Brenan took part in a destination marketing event last month in Sooke among other local business leaders.

For the past several years, the highly acclaimed exhibit and sale has attracted over 8,000 visitors (local, regional and beyond). A higher number of patrons may find their way to Sooke this year, as a result of the broader marketing scope.

The TEP grant through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is available to events of middle-to-large scale that can help shine light on attractions and the natural beauty of different areas in BC.

Premier John Horgan (MLA for the Sooke region) will be attending the Sooke Fine Arts Show again this year.


 

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

Friday, June 22 ~ SOOKE. Done deal! Three new sets of bus pullouts are now complete along Highway 14 (Sooke Road), as part of a number of improvements to boost safety, reduce congestion and keep people moving along the corridor.

The official announcement was made today June 22 by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).

The pullouts, on both sides of Highway 14, are located at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road and Harbourview Road.

The pullouts allow for buses to move fully out of traffic, reducing congestion and the risk of collisions, while providing a safe area for transit users to enter and exit the buses.

The bus pullouts have deceleration and acceleration lanes, new bus shelters, plus railings and enhanced lighting at all six stops. The stops at Laidlaw and Harbouview also have new, illuminated crosswalks, allowing pedestrian traffic to safely cross Highway 14, in order to access or depart from the new bus stop locations.

MOTI says these pullouts are the first step in the Province’s $10-million investment in immediate upgrades on Highway 14, as part of the multi-phased safety, transit and congestion improvement strategy announced roadside by Premier John Horgan in January 2018.

More potential upgrades are under development in consultation with the community; an open house was held June 19 in Sooke, with public input being accepted to July 15 at www.gov.bc.ca/highway14 .

The ministry recently completed lighting upgrades at each intersection on Highway 14 between Highway 1 and the Sooke River Bridge. As well, new safety signs are now visible at Kangaroo, Gillespie and Parkland Roads.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Monday, June 11 ~ MUNICIPAL ELECTION WATCH ~ SOOKE.

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

The geographical start point is at 2350 Sunriver Way.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ concert notes by Chelsea Kirkpatrick for West Shore Voice News


 

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic playground at Ecole Poirier Elementary (2015 photo)

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

Traffic flow does not seem to be seriously impacted.


 

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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


 

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

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

Sooke has a strong environmental-activist voter base.

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


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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

How to register:

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

Supply Levels

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

Upcoming Clinics

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

The Royal Bay component

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

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


 

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

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

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

The forecast indicates the weather front clearing by Sunday morning.

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

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


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

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

Admission by donation ($5 is recommended).

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


Scott Stinson, incoming SD62 Superintendent (starting Aug 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

SOOKE LOCAL NEWS – ARCHIVE