Sooke’s new Official Community Plan took a major stride forward, but it’s still a race against time to complete the process before the next municipal election in October.
Sooke council completed a review and passed a motion to have staff complete changes to the proposed OCP at a special meeting of council on Tuesday.
The motion passed by a 4-2 margin. Couns. Al Beddows, Jeff Bateman, Ebony Logins, and Tony St. Pierre voted in favour, while Couns. Megan McMath and Dana Lajeunesse voted against.
Beddows chaired the meeting as deputy mayor while Mayor Maja Tait is away.
“There are a large number of changes for staff to complete, although they are relatively minor in nature,” Beddows said. “The aim is to have it come back to council in early September for a second reading. Then it would go to a public hearing and could be passed by the end of September.”
“I still think it’s a 50-50 proposition that we can get it done this term,” Beddows noted. “I’m certainly going to push for that because time is running out before the next election.”
Lajeunesse said that overall, he believes the vision described in the current draft is good and hasn’t changed much from the existing OCP.
“The main issue I have with rushing to ratify this document is that after hearing from many existing and potential partners, aka developers and significant landowners, that the technical aspects of the plan will hinder the realization of the vision, I believe more consultation is warranted,” said Lajeunesse, a member of the committee that worked on the previous OCP.
The other reason Lajeunesse struggled with the motion is due to the fact that Sooke’s planning department is currently short-staffed and will become more so due to planned vacation time over the summer.
“What I suspect this means is that the day-to-day needs of the community will most likely be put on hold as staff will be focused on making council’s recommended amendments to the draft,” he explained. “And, after the fall election, the incoming council will inevitably be tasked with making further amendments.”