At a Committee of the Whole (COW) on January 30, Sooke Council reviewed information regarding the draft Official Community Plan put forward by Ms. Price, staff. Ms. Price, who is experienced in doing OCPs, compiled the information received from the public during the 2016 public consultations.
Based on her findings, three big goals were identified for Sooke, along with 12 key directions. Elected officials all had a binder of the 212 pages of compiled information. At the time of the meeting, this information was not available to the public.
Ms. Rice handed out a document to all (including the six visitors in the public gallery, which was very thoughtful!) that had a summary matrix of public input.
Three Big Goals:
- Protect the Environment
- Celebrate Community
- Build Our Economy
Twelve Key Directions:
- Plan for the Future Generation
- Design Green
- Celebrate Culture
- Safety First
- Embrace Community
- Secure our Food
- Keep Sooke Affordable
- Create Jobs
- Innovation, Efficient Infrastructure
- Preserve Ecosystems
- Strive for Excellence
Ms. Price noted that the Official Community Plan represented the will of the people who live in Sooke. She noted that any bylaws inconsistent with the plan CANNOT be adopted. The OCP needs to be refreshed every five years. The document can be used to forecast into the future as well as to identify the-low hanging fruit of what’s achievable in the short term.
The CAO said what happens next is totally up to Council, and that staff was looking to Council for direction. There were different tracks that could be taken. She noted that Big Policy questions were in front of Council right now, and she recommended a series of meetings where those questions would be tackled. She also noted that she had sought legal input and removed anything that wasn’t required by law from the OCP.
Among the councillors, there seemed to be a universal desire to keep it at a high level. The current OCP, which was conceived in 2010, went into a fair bit of detail. At times, there were conflicting details contained within the document, posing challenges for Council when they were looking at policies, bylaws and the like.
Kasper said, several times, that it was important to keep it simple. Pearson wanted to see a more practical document, with fewer ambiguities. Mayor Tait, who joined the meeting at 6:45, wanted something that would result in more actionable items. A fifty-year forward glance is good, but having measurables to achieve in the next few to five years would be practical and keep the District moving forward.
A few councillors recognized the frustrations experienced by the group who put together the 2010 OCP, and Tait noted that it was put together by two different councils and two different committees, and even different staff, as the information for the last OCP was put together before and after an election.
Ultimately, it was decided that the best way to proceed was to have a series of publicly-open meetings to discuss the various segmented components. Several on council wanted to see the parts that were removed based on the legal input. Once a draft document was created, including the “black-line version” containing the removed items, it would be made available for public review and input.
There was also some question as to what would happen to the old document.
Council voted to receive the report. A series of committee meetings would be scheduled.
The Committee of the Whole meeting was on January 30, and it started at 6pm. Present were Acting Mayor Rick Kasper and Councillors Brenda Parkinson, Kevin Pearson, Kerrie Reay, and Bev Berger. Elected mayor Maja Tait joined at 6:45; Councillor Ebony Logins was absent.