Sooke Harbour: News:
Supporters: Projects will beautify, make Sooke a safer place
Sooke News Mirror
January 19, 2005
David Mallett can see Sooke's potential.
The bed and breakfast owner and others urging a "yes" vote in
Saturday's referendum on borrowing for road projects envision an
enhanced downtown with landscaped boulevards, better sidewalks and
more street lights. Mallett, the chair of the Road to YES Committee,
wants to see a beautified village core that more reflects the natural
setting of the community.
Mallett believes tourists and current
residents will benefit from the Highway 14 upgrades. Sooke Mayor Janet
"It is about making this a nice place to
visit, to work and to shop," she said.
Mallett and his committee believe the
upgrades are supported by the community. The concerns he is hearing
about Saturday's referendum relate to phase one of the parallel
connector. But, Evans said the two projects are tied together and that
is why there is one question on the ballot asking for elector assent
to borrow $2.6 million. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
at the Edward Milne community school.
Correspondence from the Ministry of
Transportation to the district advises the highway upgrades are not
supported without the parallel connector as alone they do not
alleviate traffic congestion. The connector would provide an alternate
route to get traffic to where it is going, Evans said, and is not a
bypass. A five-lane cross section in downtown Sooke has been
suggested, but Evans said in the past it has not been supported by
council and the public.
Some have expressed concerns about the
connector because the route puts traffic onto Throup Road near Journey
middle school, Ecole Poirier elementary, the Sooke Sk8 Park and Art
"We don't believe it is going to affect
or endanger children," Mallett said. "We believe the alternate route
will enhance safety by providing proper sidewalks."
Mallett also pointed to a pair of Church
Road developments that have received third reading. Combined the
Totangi and Worthington property projects would provide another road
access as well as a trail to Ecole Poirier. This would help keep
children off Throup Road, Mallett said, who also noted the commuter
and school traffic will not be on the road at the same time.
The district received Canada-B.C. Infrastructure Program grants for
the two projects. For Highway 14 upgrades, Sooke received $1,933,332
and is looking to borrow $1 million. Sooke's share for the connector
is $1.6 million after receiving a grant of $1,882,000. Evans,
Malahat-Juan de Fuca MLA Brian Kerr and Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca Keith
Martin have all emphasized other communities are clamouring for this
cash and it could go to them if these projects don't proceed.
"If we wait another three years, it is
going to be more money and it is going to be 100 per cent," Evans
said, alluding to the grants covering about two-thirds of eligible
costs and Sooke waiting since 2001 when it applied for the funding.
According to newsletters produced by the
district, the projects would cause a maximum tax increase of $56.62,
based on the average home assessment of $187,000. Sooke administrator
Peter Jmaeff said this is based on 2004 assessments. In order to
calculate your bill using 2005 assessments, Jmaeff said divide your
assessment by 1,000 and multiply it by 0.24. For a home assessed at
$200,000, this would mean an increase of $48.
The calculation is based on the borrowed
money being paid back over 20 years. Jmaeff said council has yet to
direct staff whether the term will be for 15 or 20 years.
The connector project includes a new
two-lane road complete with sidewalk, curb and gutter, from the
gazetted Gatewood Road (located halfway between Pyrite and Otter Point
Roads) to Church Road, near Throup Road. The Highway 14 project will
upgrade two km of the road from just west of Atherley Close to
Charters Road. It includes sidewalks on both sides, widening to allow
for left turn lanes, curb and gutter, a median, 75 more streetlights
and a traffic light at Sooke and Charters Road.
© Copyright 2005 Sooke News Mirror
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