Alan Dolan | Steering Committee, Transition Sooke
For the past decade, Transition Sooke has been raising the issue of the climate emergency with the Sooke community and our elected officials. With the development of the official community plan (OCP), we escalated our call for an aggressive response to climate change.
We recently proposed that council pause new development applications for a period in order to evaluate what growth is possible while still meeting our climate emergency goals.
In an earlier presentation to council’s OCP advisory committee, we demonstrated that building more houses increases the number of people and vehicles. That means more greenhouse gases, more traffic congestion and the loss of that “small-town feel” that everyone knows and loves.
Transition Sooke is not suggesting stopping all growth in our community.
In our presentation to council on Dec. 13, we said we want more non-market, affordable housing development. We must provide our young and the difficult-to-house the shelter they deserve. With the average price of homes near $800,000, Sooke desperately needs this kind of low-cost housing. Housing is a human right, not a commodity or an investment.
We have also stated that we want to promote the increased development of local, independent business space, both retail and office, to stimulate our local economy. Growing our local economy will mean more local jobs, fewer people commuting, and fewer people travelling considerable distances to shop, which will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
We must find ways to offer these commercial units at affordable rental rates. The Community Economic Development Strategy, recently approved by council, has several excellent approaches for making local, independent businesses more viable.
All new buildings need to be as close to zero carbon emissions as possible. The technology and expertise are readily available.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by building fewer buildings, preserving green spaces for growing food and as a carbon sink, and adapting our community to a changing climate will result in a more resilient community.
A resilient Sooke has the positive spinoff of reduced traffic congestion, a vibrant local economy, food security, better flood and drought protection, enhanced wildlife habitat and biodiversity and more natural spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Alan Dolan writes for the Transition Sooke steering committee.