Councillors on Tuesday decided to put off until after the Oct. 15 civic election any vote to adopt Sooke’s official community plan.
The move came after two years of public consultation, committee work, staff recommendations, and review by council in hopes of finalizing the 238-page document before a new council takes office in November.
The plan sets out a vision for the rapidly growing town with a population of close to 15,000 people at a time when construction is booming. As in other B.C. communities, affordable housing is in high demand.
It says the primary goals are to create a green, healthy, connected town that paves the way for a prosperous future and has a spirit of inclusion.
Though council voted unanimously to hold off the vote at a public hearing on Sept.26, councillors Al Beddows and Tony St-Pierre did so reluctantly.
“Even though I feel there was plenty of opportunity for everyone to engage in the process, obviously, for whatever reason, people feel left out, and that is not a good recipe for moving forward,” said Beddows, noting that two previous votes produced 4-3 votes. Another stalemate is a “recipe for disaster,” he said.
St-Pierre, another councillor who wanted to complete the OCP by election time, pointed out the planning document would be more robust and better if more people were brought on board.
“We can move on better without making mistakes and moving on as a community. This document needs to move forward with climate adoption specifically,” he said.
Speakers at the public hearing ranged from developers to climate activists. Of the 34 speakers at the meeting, 21 were against the council’s adoption of the OCP.
Coun. Dana Lajeunesse said some technical components in the plan need work, but he was encouraged that nobody spoke against the OCP’s vision.
The District of Sooke needs to communicate more clearly on the OP so residents understand the real issues, Coun. Ebony Logins said.
“Some people speaking tonight spread blatant lies about the OCP,” she said.
“The OCP is a visioning document. It’s meant to grow with us and create a vision for what we see in our community.”