Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.

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Editorial in Sooke News Mirror, August 8, 2001.

Sookeís first-ever mayor and council may well go down in the annals of local history as the gang who accomplished little else than creating a million dollar municipal payroll. Itís not that they havenít tried to make things happen. Itís just that no one else wants to play along.

This week the Capital Regional Health District announced that it was abandoning plans to locate a long-sought-after long-term care facility on a portion of the John Phillips Memorial golf course. This after council worked long and hard to remove the property from the Agricultural Land Reserve, agreed to remove a protective covenant that was intended to reserve the land for recreational uses, and came within inches of rezoning the property to accommodate the care facility, seniors housing and a professional building. It seems the developers forgot to check whether or not the soil would percolate enough for a septic field. Although both the CRHD and the District of Sooke remain committed to bringing the care facility to the community, with less than half of councilís three-year term left, itís doubtful this bunch of politicians will see the project come to fruition.

Then thereís news that the federal/provincial infrastructure program has received over 600 applications requesting a total of $2.1-billion. Unfortunately there is only $800-million in the programs coffers and that is expected to last for five years. Even more discouraging is the fact that only $107-million has been earmarked for projects on Vancouver Island over five years. Even an optimist would see that itís unlikely that Sooke will be the recipients of nearly a quarter of the allotted cash for a single project ó the proposed $24-million sewer system.

Our municipal politicians should consider themselves lucky if they get a few million dollars for roadway improvements or to develop the vacant lot on West Coast Road that they purchased with intentions of transforming it into a park. At the rate the infrastructure applications are being processed, even the chances of that happening now seem slim.

Council has also allowed the removal of a few more parcels of land within the district from the Agricultural Land Reserve and made preliminary plans for their development. Unfortunately, the property owners have yet to seek rezoning or subdivision. With the prospect of a sewer system, they are wise to hold off.

And what ever happened to the professional office building planned for the lot at the eastern end of Goodmere Road that a local developer presented to council shortly after they first assembled in council chambers? The developer was quick to press council to have the property rezoned from residential to commercial use, over objections from almost all the neighbours, yet over a year has passed and the lot remains vacant.

Sookeís inaugural council has tried too hard, and may have been too accommodating, to get too many things accomplished. Rarely have we heard them collectively say Ďno.í Unfortunately, the more plans they put forward the worse they look when they fail or stagnate. Our next council will do better to focus on one or two obtainable priorities and see them through. Our current council seems to have forgotten that Rome wasnít built in a day.



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