According to B.C. stats, Sooke’s population grew by 3.5 per cent to more than 15,000 between 2019 and 2020.
This growth is putting pressure on housing and other parts of the community to keep up with demand.
“Sooke is in desperate need of retail, commercial and office space because we don’t have any. So, our small business owners have nowhere to go, nowhere to grow,” says Karen Mason, President of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.
Now, a development proposal may change that.
A 156,000 sq. ft. commercial project has been proposed for the 6700-block of Eustace Road.
“If our local business owners are able to expand out, that means they’ll be able to hire more people, rather than just working out of a home office space,” noted Mason.
The chamber says it’s a needed boost for the economy and keeps people from having to commute long distances.
“It’s the old saying that when you leave Sooke you’re turning left to go to the West Shore because you want to have a variety of shops and services and in Sooke, we don’t have that right now,” says Mason.
Some say, however, this recent boom is a bust and the focus should be on climate change and cheaper housing.
“Most of it should be in the city centre and some of it should be low cost, non-market housing, and economic development but local economic development,” says Alan Doyle, Board Member of Transition Sooke.
Also, adding a development of this size wasn’t in the community plan laid out in 2020.
The proposal is still being reviewed by the Sooke Planning Department and has yet to go before council.