Those that live here know you don’t need a reason, but here are ten for those that still think Sooke is “out there, man!”
1. Lower housing prices: The Sooke market has been undervalued for years, and is still catching up to markets closer to major employers in Victoria and on the naval base at Esquimalt. It’s not uncommon to find as much as a $100,000 spread between comparable homes in Sooke and Langford, and more between Sooke and Saanich or Victoria. You usually get a bigger lot out here as well.
2. Schools: Sooke has good ones, including Edward Milne Community School, one of the newest and most modern high schools in the area. A new elementary school at Sun River Estates is planned for the coming years. Sooke is also one of the only communities in Greater Victoria with all three levels of French immersion (K-12) close by.
3. Natural Splendour: Sooke is located at the south-western tip of Vancouver Island, and is situated amongst some of the greatest natural beauty in the province, if not the whole country. World-famous sites such as East Sooke Park, the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail, and the West Coast Trail are nearby. In the evenings and mornings, there are deer everywhere, and you might even spot a black bear from time to time. The coastline stretches on and on, and winter storms are great to watch from Whiffen Spit Park.
4. Recreation: The aforementioned parks have spectacular hiking trails and coastal vistas. There are surfing beaches in nearby Jordan River, and excellent mountain biking to be had in the Sooke Hills and Broom Hill. We have a modern swimming pool and arena (which has the best ice in the region). Fishing, fishing, fishing. I have yet to go out and not catch at least a few nice salmon. There’s a reason why there are so many charter companies out here – people come to fish! There are also numerous neighbourhood parks and green spaces. Most new developments include some sort of trail or natural area dedicated by the developer.
5. New Developments: And speaking of new areas, Sooke is on the move upwards. Since the construction of the Sooke Core Area Sewer System in 2003-2005, density and mix of housing is all increasing. No longer restrained by large lots for septic fields or costly and cumbersome treatment plants for multi-unit dwellings, developers are turning to Sooke to build new subdivisions and a mix of more affordable housing like condominiums and townhouses. The downtown core is set for a revitalization plan which will improve the area of the village and provide more amenities for residents and visitors.
6. Low Taxes: Sooke enjoys the lowest property taxes on southern Vancouver Island. Even with the new $500/year sewage generation charge on those properties connected to the sewer system, we’re still the lowest. With sustained growth and more money coming in from increased commercial activity, we hope to keep it that way, too.
7. The drive isn’t that bad: Sure, the prospect of driving for more than 10 minutes to get anywhere frightens native Victorians. But for those that come from larger areas, the 40-50 minute drive into town from Sooke is nothing. It is a simple reality of a town becoming a city. You’ll have to commute. Plus, it really is an enjoyable drive, especially on a sunny morning.
8. Peace and quiet. My house is only a block or so off the highway, but it’s so quiet at night I can hear the waves crashing on the shore, more than 3 kilometres away. The big lights from the big city are nonexistent; the starscape from my back yard is nothing short of stunning.
9. Arts and Culture: Sooke has a very active art and culture scene. From plays at the Edward Milne School to the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, we’ve got it covered. There are numerous art shows and gallery tours throughout the year.
10. Rural Charm: Sooke still maintains its seaside rural charm that is missing from many communities here on the Island and in BC. While there is intensive re-development, it’s still quiant enough to call a village, and many of the older long-time residents and businesses that give the area its character are still here.
So there you have it. 10 good reasons to make the move out west to Sooke. Now excuse me, my dog awaits her daily run along the seaside.