"Yes (sigh, oh well, such is life), I finished out of the money: Seventh overall, 1783 votes in total (thanks kind folks, I'm deeply grateful for the support) and yet still 24 pencil marks short of a seat at the council table. My personal disappointment, however, is mitigated entirely by the fact that Maja Tait won the mayor's race so convincingly and is now in a position to launch a new era. Better still, she'll be backed by a team featuring six individuals with 15 terms in elected office and more than 160 years of Sooke residency amongst them.
Before closing the book on this episode of my happily eventful life, here's the wish list of priorities, maybes, possibilities and why-the-heck-nots that I assembled while trying to get my thoughts in order before the candidacy filing deadline. Some points are absolutely do-able, others reveal a naive citizen dreaming large and unrealistically, taxpayers be damned. No wonder I didn't get elected ...
Draft Platform/Vision (in no particular order)
Celebrate the fact that Sooke is already perfectly imperfect as it is … while also entering its adolescence as a municipality in good financial shape with excellent community plans in place, a solid Corporate Strategic Plan, and the promise of much focused, realistic growth in the decades ahead with an eye on what this community could be like seven generations from now. Avoid negativity and ‘what if’ and ‘what should have been’ thinking at all costs.
1. Official Community Plan five-year review and update (keep it simple … single weekend intensive only by an appointed group of citizens who will re-examine the 2010 plan and report back at a community open house. Simple, direct process. Done & dusted. Onward.)
2. Consensus and non-violent communications workshops for new mayor and council (in addition to any municipal governance education programs required for newbies). Ongoing process with refreshers over the term of council. Use in public meetings of consensus-building flash cards of the kind used at Harbourside Cohousing.
3. Attract a post-secondary institution to town – advanced trades, artisan craftsmanship. Town’s history is fishing, logging & farming, so educational focus could be on aquaculture, managed small-lot forestry, fine carpentry, food production …. alternative energy, wildcrafted furniture etc.. Options: satellite campus for RRU, Camosun, Van Isle University. EMCS programs now underway w. Camosun connection.
4. Continue to celebrate and utilize existing community organizations as is now done. Find effective ways to utilize our talent pool of elders and skilled retirees hereabouts as mentors, teachers and volunteer project leaders.
5. Re-empower, enable and motivate DOS staff. Currently understaffed by five positions. Council and mayor must fully value these individuals, listen closely to their professional expertise, and work in a collaborative, cooperative relationship. Goal: Retain existing talent, recruit more.
6. DOS takes proactive stance in promoting town core density and mixed use business. Active wooing of favoured Built Green developers. Discourage further satellite housing development outside core and encourage build-out of the 3500 already approved building permits.
7. Work in unison with T’Sou-ke Nation (aka Solar City, just one of three in Canada) in making Sooke Vancouver Island’s most progressive alt.energy municipality. Celebrate existing alt.energy start-ups and encourage more to relocate here.
8. District involvement in and commitment to the purchase of the Wright farm on Helgeson Rd. – essential green space that can serve as a corridor from town to Sun River and onwards to the one-day Galloping Goose connector. Preservation of working farmbelt for future generations.
9. Sooke Incubator and Sooke Commons proposals … Council to encourage and DOS staff to help coordinate in making these vital proposals happen ASAP.
10. Coordinated, systematic development of John Phillips Memorial Park as a multi-use active park. Possible features: Rotary Trail, horseshoe pitch, stocked fish pond, off-leash dog area + more. Revisit the 2006 master plan and reopen for public input. Fate of Mulligans? Need for parking spots.
11. Hiking/biking trail network formalized west of Otter Point Rd. to Maple via Gatewood and past the pioneer cemetery, then proper sidewalk along the road to Prestige. Essential service for residents and visitors alike.
12. Promotion of Farm Village bylaw (as proposed by Guy Dauncey) + incubator farms through Sooke Farmland Trust Society
13. Fate of Wilford Farm? A heritage, historically significant farm property in Sooke. The barn is an excellent concert and community venue as proven by Philharmonic’s performance there last summer. Adjacent to water treatment plant, contiguous with T’Sou-ke Nation land – T’Sou-ke Nation has cash to purchase the land and is considering it if the Wilfords bring down their asking price.
14. Downtown revitalization focused on Eustace/Shields block & utilizing Community Centre & Legion – paint jobs and renos of existing buildings, street closures, music events, summer block parties (businesses open), formal home for the Country Market. (PARKING ISSUES)
15. Sooke Community Assoc. sports fields expanded to DeMamiel Creek Golf Course. Perfectly located for Poirier and Journey Middle School.
16. Integrated SRTA, District of Sooke and Tourism Van Isle promotion (i.e., Sooke's visitor guide and regional marketing effort would both be handled through same agency to ensure creation of a uniform marketing message and imaging).
17. Sooke Region Potholes – work with the CRD to ensure it remains in safe conservation-minded hands. Also ensure that the campground is open next year, perhaps operated privately while the TLC works through its financial issues.
18. Mariner’s Village seafront park/view point … DOS purchase, in due course, of the handful of homes sited east of the development … in so doing, creating a green space/park leading down towards the water. A truly world-class viewpoint within an hour of the Inner Harbour. A spot for daytrippers to enjoy the views and linger in town.
19. Pursue the possibility of community amenities from town’s leading developers – i.e., scenic Juan de Fuca viewpoint spots in the upper reaches of Stone Ridge and Erinan Estates.
20. Water fountain, clock tower (perhaps mounted on a new-look version of the logging pole) and tourism kiosk at Evergreen Mall. Public toilet facilities here too?
21. Adoption of CRD Model Pesticide Use Control Bylaw
22. Car pooling/rideshare initiatives + scenic bus promotion with BC Transit. Park & Ride lot on town’s west side.
23. Much better communications from Mayor and council to the public … newsletters, monthly News Mirror and Voice News columns.
24. District website requires readable, short-form synopses of the community plans currently available only in full PDF format. More active use in general of social media (the Twitter feed is used only for road closures and emergencies at the moment + no Facebook page exists). Crucial: Website needs to promote, showcase and profile district staff as much as the Mayor & council. This hierarchical ‘power-over’ relationship between council & staff needs to end immediately.