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Posts from the ‘Sooke Council’ Category

Sooke Disposal Garbage Drop-Off Is Closing

While everyone in Sooke has been arguing about the proposed new carwash and laundromat (which I think is a great idea, by the way), something much more serious is going on with a long-time local business. The Sooke Disposal drop-off yard, located between Edward Milne School and Fred Milne park is closing. As of September 30th, Butler Brothers Concrete, which owns the land, is reclaiming it for their own use and Sooke Disposal will have to move off the land. Read more

Sooke Seeks Your Opinion On Galloping Goose Connector

Cyclists get a great view of Sooke Basin on the Goose.

A few weeks ago, my Twitter feed for Sooke turned up a post from a justifiably irate cyclist from Vancouver, who heard about this little town called Sooke at the end of a fantastic little bike trail known as the Galloping Goose. Much to his chagrin, to actually get to Sooke from the Goose required hopping off the trail and heading west along Sooke Road (Highway 14). As we all know, the only road in and out of Sooke is very busy at peak periods. Not surprisingly, our friend from Vancouver didn’t exactly feel safe, and was even introduced to one of our more, shall I say, colourful locals in a “… giant pick-up truck who … while honking loudly … roared away… giving us the finger…”

Way to welcome the visitors, buddy.

Anyway, his scathing blog post got me on the defensive, because I knew that the town had already recognized the problem and had been working to fix it. In fact, Joe the Cyclist posted an update with quotes from emails he’d received in response from Mayor Janet Evans and her staff (good job!).

The District of Sooke has been contemplating a separate crossing of the Sooke River for cyclists and joggers for quite some time. And, as it turns out, the design work for this project is well underway. At The District of Sooke Community Open House on October 21st, residents (and visitors) are invited to give feedback about the four proposed designs. All four designs will also include the associated connecting trail networks to link the Galloping Goose with the east-west trail network north of Sooke Road/West Coast Road that has been quietly building out over the past decade or so. Construction of the crossing is expected to take place in 2012.

Another thing that Joe mentioned was the lack of cycling-friendly facilities in the town centre. Even something as simple as a bike rack was difficult to find outside a business. This is something the Chamber should get behind – perhaps a bulk buy of some bike racks or arranging sharing the cost outside a central location near several businesses. Also mentioned was the lack of a bike rack at Whiffen Spit Park. Cyclists are not allowed on the Spit, but should certainly still be provided a safe place to secure their bike so they can enjoy the best views in Sooke along the Spit.

I’d like to thank Joe for his constructive criticism of our cycling infrastructure. It’s direct input like this, from visitors to our town that carries the most weight for improving our increasingly tourist-based local economy.

Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear from the business community, if you’re reading.

The District of Sooke Open House will take place on Thursday, October 21st, 2010. It starts with a tour at Municipal Hall from 1:30-4:00 and then the open house at the Sooke Community Hall, Sheilds Road, from 4:00-8:00. More information can be found in the latest District Quarterly.


Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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The District of Sooke Needs Your Opinion On Secondary Suites

Suites are a necessary housing option

As part of their review of the issue of secondary suites in single-family homes (also known as basement suites, in-law suites, rental suites, etc.), The District of Sooke is forming a Secondary Suites Advisory Committee and needs volunteers from various neighbourhoods in Sooke to come forward to share their views and make recommendations to town council to help them craft any future legislation regarding suites.

Secondary suites are a necessary housing option, especially in a town like Sooke where there are very few purpose built apartments. They also make the dream of home ownership more attainable for the average family. However, regulations need to be in place for health and safety, nuisance, and taxation purposes.

Council is seeking to form a “community-based committee to evaluate and make recommendations to Council by November 30th, 2010 on the issue of secondary and small suites, including the legalization of illegal suites.”

If you’re interested, you’ll need to volunteer by Friday to be a part of the committee. Representatives from all areas of Sooke are needed, so go ahead and have your voice heard! Click here to visit the relevant page on the Council website.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Secondary Suites in Sooke – Input Needed!

A Basement Suite (complete with The Sopranos on TV)

The District of Sooke is currently investigating the secondary suites issue, and is looking for feedback from residents about suites. At issue is the potential for legalizing secondary suites (also known as basement suites or apartments) in more zones in the District. Currently, suites are only allowed in dwellings on lots with a certain zoning applied to them.

Despite this fact, many property owners in Sooke have created secondary suites to rent out to help with the mortgage, or generate revenue. As the District isn’t in the business of evicting tenants, they’ve for the most part let it slide. It only makes sense for them to regulate and control all suites in the district, allowing them to ensure first that they are properly constructed and safe for habitation, and to collect extra revenue to recoup the additional strain on municipal resources such as sewage, fire, and police services.

Secondary suites are essentially the main type of rental housing in Sooke. There are very few purpose-built rental apartments, and many of the privately-owned condos are subject to rental restrictions. This has become the case in many municipalities in the greater Victoria region, as financial incentive for a developer to build rental apartments has been virtually non-existant since the 70s – instead, they opt to build and sell condos.

Visit the District Of Sooke’s web site to take the survey on secondary suites, and ensure your voice is heard.

Got an opinion on secondary suites? Post a comment and start the discussion!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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New Waterfront Hotel, Convention Centre, Public Marina Coming Soon To Sooke

sookeprestigelogosmall

What a difference a good council can make. Since being elected last November, the new Sooke Municipal Council has been busy. They’ve arranged for several provincial government grants for public projects, installed nearly three kilometres of new sidewalks, pushed ahead with plans for downtown revitalization, and now, finally, Sooke is going to get its hotel.

Sooke has long been known for its fabulous bed and breakfast facilities, and the Sooke Harbour House, a world-famous high-end seaside inn, but has always lacked a modern, middle-of-the-road hotel for everyday tourists. That’s all going to change.

Last year, three waterfront parcels along West Coast Road just before Whiffen Spit were put up for sale. The District of Sooke bought one, and the other two were acquired by Prestige Hotels. The District and Prestige have proposed an agreement to build a 122-room hotel, with a 400-person convention centre, full service marina, gym, spa, pool, lounge and restaurant and two ‘bistro-style’ eateries. Construction could start as early as this fall. The District will agree to build a public boat launch and pier on their property, and will pay Prestige $300,000 for five years, which will entitle the District to 12 rent-free days per month in the convention centre, for a total of nearly two years of free usage for the District.

A similar deal was reached in the community of Salmon Arm. District representatives traveled there last year to meet with Prestige representatives and talk to local politicians. While the idea of paying the hotel company was controversial at the time, it has worked out very well for Salmon Arm. Conventions and tourists are coming to town, and the building of the hotel attracted another new hotel to build in the area, and caused another one to undertake a major renovation.

As I see it it, there is no downside to this. A major commercial operation like this hotel will generate a lot of revenue for the District in property taxes, not to mention the ability to host conferences and conventions, weddings, tournaments, and all other events that will generate spending in our town. It takes a lot of people to build a hotel – the jobs will be welcome as residential construction has slowed in the past year. After the hotel is built, there will be jobs for people to work there. Finally, there will be a publicly-owned boat launch in the centre of Sooke and another marina right next to the mouth of the harbour. The fitness facility will be open to public membership, and the convention centre will be available free of charge to community and non-profit groups.

More details can be found in this article from the  Sooke News Mirror. Sooke’s council has accomplished much in their first ten months. They should be applauded for taking the initiative to attract this deal rather than waiting around for some hotel company to eventually find their way out the winding Sooke Road.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Sooke’s SEAPARC Arena and Pool Expansion/Renovation

seaparc1

We’re lucky in Sooke to have such a nice facility for recreation as the SEAPARC (Sooke and Electoral Area Parks And Recreation Commission) arena and pool. The facility, located on Philips road just off Sooke Road is modern, clean, and a great value.

Since moving to Sooke almost 4 years ago, I’ve enjoyed the pool and arena, but must admit I’d use the facility more if it had a fitness facility. Currently there is a small aerobics room for drop-in and regular classes, but no weight room or cardio studio.

In 2008, the subject of expansion of the facility to include a weight room and aerobics facility came up, and after some public consultation some conceptual drawings (1,2,3,4) were done up and the plan was put forward. This week, I received a survey in the mail outlining some of the details of the project as well as the potential costs involved. It’s planned that two-thirds of the estimated $2.7 million cost of the expansion will be funded through various grants and federal and provincial money as well as other funding sources. That leaves about $1 million to come out of SEAPARC’s budget, which of course is funded by you and me, the taxpayer.

If the project goes ahead, there would be a corresponding increase in property taxes in the District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, which pay for SEAPARC. What does borrowing $1 million look like on your taxes? About $20 per year for an average home in Sooke and about $14 for an average home in JDF. Not much, really for such an important and exciting project.

The expansion would add a second storey viewing area and expand the existing arena dressing room and aerobics, in addition to the weight room and other fitness facilities.

By adding these new options at the SEAPARC recreation complex, we would also be adding the user base of the facility. There is only one similar gym in Sooke – Odyssey Fitness – and a second option would be great for our town. Plus, I’d love the ability to go for a hard workout and then take a dip in the pool or hot tub! If the user base increases then perhaps the increase in revenue could offset the tax increase someday.

Watch for the survey in the mail, or click here to download it, and then drop it off either at SEAPARC reception, Bill’s Store in East Sooke, Kemp Lake Store in Otter Point, or the Port Renfrew Community Centre. Or, simply scan and e-mail it to seaparc@crd.bc.ca.

It’s your town, your facility and your money – let SEAPARC know what you think!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Sooke Parks and Trails Master Plan Open House Nov 26th

Bravo to whoever designed this - I like it!

Bravo to whoever designed this - I like it!

One of the best things about moving to Sooke is the excellent system of parks and trails our district enjoys. From Ed MacGregor Park and the waterfront boardwalk to the Galloping Goose Trail, there’s always something to do in some beautiful park in Sooke.

Today when I went to grab the best cappuccino on the continent at Sooke’s renowned Stick in the Mud Cafe, I noticed the above brightly coloured flyer. Upon flipping it over, I read that the District of Sooke is holding a public open house to review a draft of the Parks and Trails Master Plan. Residents are invited to share their ideas and priorities for the future of parks and trails in Sooke.

The open house runs Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 from 4:00 until 8:00 in the foyer of the SEAPARC Arena, Philips Road. Light refreshments will be provided.

I encourage all those who love our town and the outdoor recreation opportunities it offers to come out and have your say in the future planning for those amenities. I’m planning on attending, hope to see you there!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Sooke 2008 Municipal Election Results

First of all, thanks to all Sooke voters who came out to vote this past Saturday, and at advance polls earlier this month. This important vote for your civic leaders should have the highest turnout of all levels of government, but usually doesn’t. According to CivicInfoBC, 43.71% of eligible voters turned out to vote, but at first glance that might be based on total number of votes counted, and not total number of ballots. I will try and find out. UPDATE: A reply from CivicInfoBC confirms that their numbers were based on ballots, not votes. Hence, nearly 44% of eligible Sooke voters turned out to the polls! Good work!

Congratulations to Mayor Janet Evans, who was re-elected in a fairly close battle with Rick Kasper. Only two incumbent councillors were re-elected, Ron Dumont and Sheila Beech. Newcomers Dave Bennett, Maja Tait, Herb Haldane, and Bev Berger will join them in Sooke’s new municipal council.

Overall, I don’t think the vote could have gone much better. Political newcomer Dave Bennett got nearly 600 well-deserved votes more than his closest competitor. I’m expecting good things from him in the council chamber. I won’t go into detail on my personal opinions, bu, I believe the right people got elected and will be able to move forward with Sooke business over the next three years.

Also, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area residents have elected Mike Hicks over Ute Schnarr to the CRD board.

Here are the Sooke voting results from the CivicInfoBC Elections Site:

Mayor Candidate(s):

First Name

Last Name

Initial

Sex

Acclaimed

Votes

Elected

1. Janet Evans F 1597 YES
2. Rick Kasper M 1284
3. Randy Welters M 413
Councillor Candidate(s):
First Name
Last Name
Initial
Sex
Acclaimed
Votes
Elected
1. David Bennett M 2559 YES
2. Maja Tait F 1980 YES
3. Sheila Beech F 1835 YES
4. Herb Haldane M 1648 YES
5. Ron Dumont M 1586 YES
6. Bev Berger F 1532 YES
7. Brenda Parkinson F 1523
8. Rick Armour M 1464
9. Gail Hall F 1271
10. Carmen Montgomery-Gray F 573

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Are Sooke’s Seaview Trailer Park Residents Still In Peril?

Sooke Harbour

Sooke Harbour

Since I first posted about the plight of the residents of the Seaview Mobile Home Park in Sooke, I’ve had quite the response from residents of the park and observers of the situation. I even had a comment the other day that was so defamatory that I was afraid to post it and I deleted it. Libel and slander are not why I started a blog.

It’s understandable – this is human drama in the purest form. A disadvantaged group of tenants at the mercy of a landlord. These struggles have gone on for centuries and always cause emotions to run high. I am honoured that the residents are choosing my blog as a forum to express their comments, and I thank the two residents of the park that have taken the time to e-mail me to update the situation.

Ever since I wrote last week about Sooke Council passing the mobile home park resident protection bylaw, I wondered how it would affect Seaview, since they were given the eviction notice before the bylaw was passed. I feared that if the eviction notice was lawful, the residents would be forced to leave.

I got an e-mail yesterday from a resident of the park who informed me that the residents are disputing the eviction on the grounds that it was illegally served. This person further stated that even if the eviction notice is valid, that the landlord will have to relocate or buy up the units at fair market value. It would appear then that the District of Sooke’s new policy will apply to the residents, which is some good news.

I will keep updating as I get more information.

Your comments are always appreciated, and can be left below this post or by clicking on the big red comment link.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Sooke’s Seaview Mobile Home Park Protected by Sooke Council

Sooke Municipal Hall

Sooke Municipal Hall

An updated on the situation I posted about last week:

Last night, at the Sooke Council Chambers, the owners of the not-so-mobile homes in Sooke’s Seaview Trailer Park breathed a sigh of relief as Sooke Council unanimously passed the proposed policy on mobile home park redevelopments.

The policy protects mobile home owners by requiring the owner of the park to either compensate the owners for the fair market value of their homes or relocate the home to another pad before redevelopment will be permitted.

The Council also gave a legal opinion that the eviction notice served to the owners was in fact illegal (probably due to the fact that it stated that all municipal approvals were in place for redevelopment, which was untrue).

One park resident has been in e-mail contact with me and tells me that the owners have a court date in November to challenge the eviction notice. Stay tuned for updates.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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