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The Trend of Economic Development Associations on Vancouver Island and Sooke’s Role — 11 Comments

  1. Iv lived in sooke for almost 30 year and have seen it change so much .we have our own idenity and the only reason we are becoming a commuter community is lack of economic development and i think its time to start competing for these resources

  2. Sorry, but I disagree with much of Mr Clouser’s ramblings.
    I applaud Council’s decision to reverse their support for SVIEDA, as it doesn’t makes sense to be paying an organization invented by the Victoria Chamber as a profit centre to do the economic planning for Sooke. Does anyone really believe that with the District of Sooke only contributed approximately 2% of the overall required annual fees to SVIEDA, that Sooke would be receiving an equal amount of attention and effort from SVIEDA as other communities? NOT!!!!
    Furthermore, I’m not quite sure where Mr Clouser gets off taking shots at our own Sooke Region Chamber as being an ineffective organization that is self serving to its members. It’s public record that the Sooke Chamber is paid $28K per year (from business license fee’s paid by local businesses) to perform economic development services on behalf of the District, mainly because the District has not invested into having its own economic development officer on staff. It’s a financially prudent move for the District to sub-contract out this service requirement to the Sooke Chamber for $28K vs $80K for a dedicated staff plus at least $60K for required marketing, advertising, promo, etc.
    Having gone our Chambers website, they have a very comprehensive economic development strategy and plan in place, with my impression being that they are “made in Sooke, by Sooke, for Sooke” initiatives that came out of their Economic Development Symposium late last fall.
    I’d put my support towards this type of home-grown effort any day, as opposed to having outside organizations with other vested interests shaping this community!
    I also do not see where the Sooke Chamber serves only its own members. The 4 core purposes that Mr Clouser inserted into his article clearly states that the Chamber is there to be a supportive resource to the local business community to achieve greater success. It doesn’t say just to help their own members.
    At any rate, I think Mr Clouser is coming at this from a purely academic standpoint (which his own bio shows as his background), and he is out of touch with the practical realities of local business and local economic development needs and initiatives.

  3. I’m biased. Let me get that out of the way from the start. I commute to Victoria most days, the others I work remotely from my home. My wife commutes to Victoria daily.

    So, to us, Sooke is a bedroom community. But it’s much more to us as well. It’s where Jan’s parents chose to retire many years ago and where her mother still lives. It’s a place of peace and community where we’ve put down roots and made friends.

    It’s a place far removed from the “densify, densify, densify!” madness that infects Victoria and Langford. Crossing that little ridge line that separates us from that is like driving into a completely different life. And it does that at a fraction of the cost of living the way we do if we were doing it anywhere near the water in Victoria.

    I know that puts me at odds with everyone who wants to see industry and tech centers pop up here in Sooke. And I’m ok with that.

    Having said that, I know that Sooke needs jobs.

    My question for Sooke is simply; do we want small town west coast jobs and lifestyle or do we want small city west coast jobs and lifestyle. It’s not as simple a question as you might think.

  4. I too also disagree with many things Michael Clouser has to say in his letter. The South Vancouver Island Economic Development Association (SVIEDA) is an extension of Victoria Chamber of commerce and in my opinion is nothing other a power grab. I applaud Sooke council for reversing their decision and thereby leaving the development of Sooke firmly in the hands of local businesses via the Sooke Chamber of Commerce and Sooke council and associated committees.

    The suggestion that The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce has as its core mission the serving of its membership base is incorrect. Even the objectives quoted by Mr. Clouser do not support that statement.

    Objectives of the Chamber are to:

    1. Be a supportive resource for local businesses to achieve greater success
    2. Facilitate new economic development opportunities
    3 Foster positive business relationships in the community
    4. Constructively influence public policy and governments in supporting free enterprise

    I don’t see anywhere in the text above where it says that Sooke Chamber of Commerce’s core mission is to serve it’s members. Of course the chamber will serve the interests of it’s members but it also supportive of the business community as a whole which also encompasses non members.

    Sooke Chamber of commerce also welcomes and supports new economic development opportunities.

    Sooke Council is on the right track with it’s reversal of its decision and, as such, no longer supporting the Victoria Chamber of Commerce ‘power grab’ under the auspices of SVIEDA!

  5. To my way of thinking, this article is totally legit.

    Having served on the EDC in the past, I’m all too aware of the limitations imposed by our teeny little commercial economy, and how outgunned it is politically and financially by land owners residential developers. Many of these developers can’t seem to wrap their heads around the value of investing in the long term viability of building a sustainable community, as opposed to making the quick bucks from jamming as many homes with as few services as possible into a chunk of real estate.

    Collaboration with this larger entity is NOT tantamount to relinquishing control over our town. In fact, I feel it’s the exact opposite. This organization is going to exist regardless, and rebuffing the offer of a seat at the table is not rational. Especially given the relatively low cost of membership, and the potential to share the burden of attracting the types of interests that could help Sooke thrive due to its own varied attributes.

    The Chamber is a great local resource organization, and I’m glad to be a member. But, again, it’s a teeny tiny little organization whose reach is significantly limited. That is not a slag on the organization, it’s the simple reality of Chambers in small towns everywhere. It’s true that the Chamber gives precedence to its membership. I’ve seen it first hand and understand why it needs to be that way. This in itself is a compelling reason to have a seat at the table with SVIEDA.

    Reversing the decision to join was in itself a terrible decision. At least give it a year or two and see how it pans out- see if Sooke does hold sway. I think it does.

    Sooke is a tough town. I have no doubt that its interests would be well represented at the table, and that we could get things moving that would be of benefit to our community. Counting on the same, small group of people to do all the heavy lifting is not just unfair, it’s not sustainable.

    So, I’m glad that the article was written, and of course it’s just as legit to disagree with it. As a guy whose been able to keep a business alive in Sooke for 12 years, I can tell you that a little extra help would be really nice.

  6. I have never considered Sooke to be simply a bedroom community yet the reality is that the majority of people who work and live here, work outside the community. That has been the case for many years. Even in the 1970s my dad and others who worked in the forest industry had to leave the community for work, often for months at a time. By the time the mill shut down, working outside the community was a reality for most Sookites. Today workers commute to big commercial or residential construction projects in downtown Victoria, Dockyard, the hospitals, etc. While it would be nice, I don’t see any of those kinds of large-scale employers where hands-on, in-person work is needed coming to Sooke any time soon. There is potential to attract more Sooke workers with employers that offer mobile and flexible work options. For example, I am able to telecommute from home in Sooke two days a week. It’s great to run up Sooke on my lunch hour to get groceries or meet a friend for lunch here. While my employer (and many others) supports and encourages flexible and mobile work options, telecommuting arrangements are a decision made by everyone’s direct supervisor. Unfortunately, not all supervisors are comfortable with it. Imagine the benefits to our local shops and restaurants if you could divert even a day or two of time spent by those who commute daily into telecommuting from Sooke. Practical ways to make a difference are things like dedicated office space where teleworkers could plug in, and tools and evidence so workers can make a solid business case to their employer and outline the benefits of teleworking. And, even if we do commute on some or all of our work days, Sooke will never be “just a commuter community”. The thousands of people involved in our local community organizations (many of whom are commuters) are a testament to the core spirit of Sooke.

  7. I always thought Goodridge Island would be a perfect place to build a self contained, comprehensive development with condos, commercial and tech sector industry. Maybe a movie studio. Total yuppie heaven, lots of jobs for millennial demo. It could generate so much in the way of taxes that could be used to improve the town core which would in turn attract those who live and work at Goodridge.

    Brew pubs, piers, boat launches, a boardwalk all the way into Sooke- that little patch of land could really bring huge benefit social and economic benefits to the town.

    Just gotta work on getting that fiber optic stuff figured out, and if the District were to own that property, or T’Sou-ke…well, I don’t think that would be a bad thing.

  8. To Lorien,

    funny, this very idea was floated 20 years ago. pretty much identical. another ‘Granville Island” was the thought at the time. perhaps it would be a good approach to look at why it failed to get traction at that time. i’s always thought one major stumbling block was the creosote soaked soil that would have to be removed. not entirely sure….

    • Hey Fred-
      environmental cleanup is definitely an obstacle, but one which can be met with the right, visionary investors. The biggest obstacle to bringing hi tech industry to Sooke has always been the lack of fiber optic connection.

      Telus is currently beginning the process of bringing fiber optic to Sooke, and that might be the biggest game changer of all.

      Last I heard, that 17 or so acre parcel of land @ Goodridge was going for a cool $5 million. Not cheap, but given its potential…