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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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Sooke Potholes Camping To Resume Spring 2010

Image Credit - The Land Conservancy of BC

Since the Capital Regional District and The Land Conservancy bought up some formerly private land around the Sooke Potholes a few years back (they recently bought some more), lots has been done up there. Expanded parking, trail work, Galloping Goose Trail upgrades, and the Sooke Potholes Campsite.

Unfortunately, due to CRD water main construction, the campsite was closed for the entire 2009 season. I’m pleased to report that the campsite will be open from May 21 to September 6, 2010. The Sooke Potholes Campsite, operated by The Land Conservancy of BC, features 65 campsites (55 tenting sites and 10 RV/trailer sites), including 5 that are along the Galloping Goose Trail and are designated as bike-in only. Reservations are taken for most of the sites, but some are held for first-come, first-served park visitors.

Activities at Sooke Potholes Park include hiking, cycling, mountain biking, fishing, and of course, swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Sooke River, in the naturally-formed “potholes” that give the area its name.You can even hike or bike up to Leechtown, a real-life ghost town and relic of a short-lived gold rush on the Leech River in 1864.

Camping is just $21 per night, plus a $7 reservation fee. Firewood is available for purchase (as long as no fire bans are in place – typically in the hottest summer months) for $6.

Find out more information on the Sooke Potholes Campground website, including frequently asked questions and fact sheet. Online reservations for camping at Sooke Potholes will be available mid-April, 2010.

I also noticed that they are hiring support staff for the campground.

What’s your favourite campsite in the south-Island region? Why?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Running, Jogging, and Walking in Sooke

Self Portait - I Need to Get Moving!

Self Portait - I Need to Get Moving!

I’d been meaning to write about this for a while, but my post about Fresh Fitness last week attracted a comment from reader Jenna K about good places to run in Sooke, and approximate distances.

I’m back in training. I’ve been an avid runner for the past couple years, coming from a point where I could hardly run a kilometre without resting, to being able to bust off a quick 10K before breakfast. Last year, with Fresh Fitness, my fiancee and I started a training program to run the 1/2 at the Royal Victoria Marathon. We didn’t end up doing the run, as it was on the same day as my ten-year high school reunion in Vancouver. Anyway, a busy summer combined with general laziness and lack of running partner (M hurt her hip and can’t run) kind of sidelined me.

But I’m back in the groove now, and I’m planning on at least three runs this year. The TC 10K, the Vancouver Marathon (1/2 Marathon), and my first full marathon in October at the Royal Victoria Marathon.

The obvious choices for running, jogging and walking in Sooke have to be Whiffen Spit and The Galloping Goose Trail. Whiffen is nice, because it’s approximately 1.5km long, flat, and surrounded by the ocean. The mountain and ocean views are incredible. From the intersection of West Coast/Sooke Road and Whiffen Spit Road to the end of the spit is almost exactly three kilometres. From the start of the Spit to the end, it’s about 1.5km.

There are two main entrances to the Galloping Goose in Sooke. One at Cooper’s Cove, just east of Fuze restaurant, and another on Sooke River Road on the way to Sooke Potholes Park. I like the Goose because as it is an old rail bed, it does not have any steep inclines or declines. Also, the distance is marked every kilometre, so timing your run or doing a certain distance is easy.

I’ve gone a few times up the hill at Harbourview Park (this is the park in Sasseenos at the end of Harbourview road). It’s a bit of a trek up the hill, but it is quite challenging if you’re in for a test. The trail goes on forever so you’ll never run out of room.

I also enjoy the new trail system that is developing in Sooke. Basically all the new developments in the past few years have had to include pedestrian trails somewhere in the development. If you start in Sun River, you could run their many trails down to the SEAPARC centre, and then continue on towards downtown Sooke on the trails that go by the middle school and in behind the new developments off Church Road. You’ll still hit some roads, but it’s getting better all the time.

A really nice route is now available between Murray Road (the bottom part of Otter Point Road) and Ed Macgregor park. The new boardwalk is now complete, and you can run down Murray (very steep!) and the stairs to Rotary Pier, which is the starting point of the boardwalk. Run out across the Sooke Harbour on the boardwalk and you’ll see that instead of the somewhat treacherous stairs and dirt trail up the hill, there is a wheelchair accessible boardwalk, allowing a smooth, not-too-steep run up the embankment into beautiful Ed Mcgregor Park.

Running in Sooke can be challenging, as there are many hills. One day I’d like to run up Otter Point Road from its start at Sooke Road and go all the way around (it’s a horseshoe shaped road) to its intersection with West Coast Road.

See below for a map of some of the routes, or click the link below to view it full-sized.

What are your favourite places to run?

View Larger Map

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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