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Impromptu Group Urging Sewer Support Letters

by Robin Wark for the Sooke News Mirror, July 9, 2002

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Keith Martin and representatives of various Sooke region organizations hope the power of the pen will help bring sewers to town and open up a number of doors for economic possibilities.

The unnamed group, which is focused on jobs, economic development and promotion of the area, has launched a letter writing campaign backing the District of Sooke’s application for grant money to bring sewers to town. The group is asking area residents to write letters of support for Sooke’s Canada-B.C. Infrastructure grant program application to George Abbott, the Minister of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services, which is the provincial approving agent.

"We can’t have increased commercial growth in the core area without sewers," said Bob Sykes, a group member and the president of the Sooke Harbour Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Ed Macgregor is happy to have the additional support, though he noted district staff has spoken with ministry officials often about the municipality’s grant application, which will be resubmitted in September.

"I don’t think it can hurt to have the people involved in economic development being advocates," he said.

But sewers is just one of the group’s concerns. Martin said another immediate focus is to identify land for clean industry.

"If we focus on these two things we’ve done a whole lot," Martin said. "We need both so we can create higher paying jobs in Sooke. We need the help of the public in order to make these things a reality."

Seeing a need to bring various organizations in Sooke together, Martin has initiated this group. Sykes praised Martin’s desire to start the organization - which has no operating budget - and his work in chairing it.

Though it currently lacks a clever moniker, Martin feels it can help accomplish what is needed to help Sooke’s economy.

"Someone said, ‘We should have a name,’" Martin said. "I said, ‘Let’s get on with the business first.’"

As well as Martin and the Sooke Harbour Chamber of Commerce, the group includes MLA Brian Kerr and representatives of the Juan de Fuca Economic Development Corporation, the District of Sooke, the Capital Regional District and Juan de Fuca Community Futures.

Coun. Lorna Barry, who is a group member, feels the committee is working well. She also believes having representatives of a variety of groups at the table is important in achieving its goals.

"If you are all working together, you can accomplish more than working individually," the councillor said.

Martin feels all groups are working unselfishly to make things better for the community.

"The whole purpose of the committee is to attract commercial growth to produce jobs and tax dollars," Sykes said.

Another item the group is working on is the establishment of a circle route from Victorias to Sooke to Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan and back down. While promotional trips have been held, the main problem is having the TimberWest road, called by some the Link Highway, from Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan open to the general public.

A meeting was held two weeks ago in Lake Cowichan to discuss this possibility. Kerr was in attendance at the meeting and said he feels it was positive. While there is hope for a two-lane highway in the future, Kerr said having a well-maintained logging road and marketing it is what needs to be done in the present.

WRATH Commentary: We urge opponents of an expensive and unecessary sewer collection, treatment, and disposal system (Sewage Outfall) in Sooke, WITHOUT A LIQUID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN IN PLACE, to write letters as well. Please see our Letters Webpage for more information about who to write, complete with all the contact information for each politician.



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