Transition Sooke made a delegation to Sooke Council this week to state that Council should put a put a hold on all new development until the new Official Community Plan (OCP) is completed, zoning and building bylaws align with the new OCP, and a Climate Action Plan is in place that specifies how the District will meet its goal of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“The District has already approved the bulk of its growth commitment to 2030,” said Transition Sooke Director Alan Dolan. “We cannot meet our greenhouse gas emissions targets if we keep growing at the present rate. And we can’t maintain the small-town — close to the ocean, forests and fields — that everyone says they treasure.”
Dolan noted if new development is paused, work on existing development will continue, properties will continue to be bought, sold and rented in Sooke, and growth will continue for non-market, affordable housing and for local, independent small businesses in the town core.
“The vision in the new OCP,” said Dolan “states that ‘Sooke is a small town with a big heart. It is a vibrant net zero emissions community, cradled in the stunning beauty and vitality of the ocean and forest.’ It is impossible to attain this vision and keep growing at the present rate.
“We shouldn’t be planning for the consequences of growth, we should decide how much we can grow.”
On the results of their delegation to Council, Dolan expressed disappointment.
“I was very disappointed with Council’s response,” summed Dolan. “In a nutshell, they said they would not pause new development. I think they understand the seriousness of climate change, but they do not understand the urgency, which really means they don’t understand climate change. This is particularly upsetting because this is the same council that declared a climate emergency.”
Transition Sooke is a citizen-based, volunteer, public-interest group focused on co-creating a sustainable, resilient and secure community that meets the challenges of the climate emergency in the Sooke region.