Sooke housing for Indigenous residents

Plus, skate park upgrades, Langford pickleball, duck day, and more

Good morning! 

The province announced some housing updates for Sooke this week. Plus, a CRD skate park is getting some upgrades. All that and more in today’s edition of the newsletter.

Emma

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HOUSING

Low income housing now available in Sooke

New affordable Indigenous housing in Sooke. Photo: Flickr

The M’akola Housing society is now accepting affordable housing applications for 2170 Charters and 2075 Drennan in Sooke. The development on Drennan sat vacant for months last winter in Sooke’s town core but is now open for business. The double project is the fruit of a multi-party partnership between the federal government, the province, the CRD and M’akola Housing Society. 

Sooke is one of the fastest growing municipalities in British Columbia, with a growth rate of over 13% between the 2016 and 2021 census periods that placed its population count at just over 15,000 residents. The need has been great particularly for market and below-market units. 

The 2019 Sooke District Housing Needs Report projected that by 2031, the net new demand for rentals would reach just over 2K. 

The development contains two five-storey buildings, which will include 170 homes, 34 of which have been reserved for people with very low incomes. They will include a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The development also includes a communal gathering space, accessible parking spaces and a playground on the property. 

Some of the units being offered to people with very low incomes are at shelter rates, which in BC is equivalent to $560 for a one-bedroom, $955 for a two-bedroom and $1,055 for a three-bedroom. This ensures they are affordable for those receiving social assistance, persons with disabilities, or on a basic seniors’ pension. The remaining units will be rented at below-market rates.

The land at 2170 Charters Rd. is currently owned by BC Housing. The new units will bring the total number of apartments it owns in Sooke to 245. Thanks to its success and expansion in helping Indigenous people in more communities outside of the CRD to find affordable housing, M’akola Housing Society now manages over 2,000 homes in the interior, the northwest and on Vancouver Island.

The project represents a portion of a $19-billion housing investment by the BC government. The Regional Housing Trust Fund Contribution to the project was $330k.  

“We raise our hands to celebrate AHMA Member M’akola Housing Society for creating homes that are accessible to people who need them most. This project is an example of the deep affordability needed by those living on very low incomes and it is an example of equity in action,” said Margaret Pfoh, chief executive officer, Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA).

“The Government of Canada is committed to making communities stronger through projects like the one in Sooke. These investments help to provide access to secure and affordable homes for community members, and to ensure that more individuals have a place they can call home,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of energy and natural resources and MP for North Vancouver, on behalf of Minister of Housing Sean Fraser.

SPONSORED BY VICTORIA CHINATOWN MUSEUM SOCIETY

Awakening Chinatown offers family fun

Step into the vibrancy and resilience of Chinese heritage during the third Annual Awakening Chinatown festival on Sunday, May 26, from noon to 5:30 pm.

Presented by the Victoria Chinatown Museum (VCMS), this free all-ages festival celebrates Chinese Canadian heritage and community spirit, with dance, magic, opera, arts, crafts and more, all taking place in Victoria's historic Chinatown neighbourhood.

VCMS was formed in 2020 to honour the history, culture, and contribution of Chinese Canadians. The society launched the festival in 2022 as part of its mission to create broader awareness of the integral role Chinese culture plays in weaving the cultural fabric of Greater Victoria.

Awakening Chinatown 2024 is supported by Lead Sponsor RBC and Dragon Sponsor Townline, amongst others.

RECREATION

SEAPARC looks to renew Sooke Skate Park

Local skateboarders will be getting a new and improved skate park in the area after the Capital Regional District (CRD) announced plans on April 25 to renew the Sooke Skate Park. 

Built in 1997 by the Rotary Club of Sooke, the park is currently operated by the CRD’s Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission (SEAPARC) Recreation Centre. For 27 years the park has had many visitors and plenty of use; now, SEAPARC is looking into future development and upgrades to enhance riders’ experiences. 

“I am proud to support the skate park renewal project,” said SEAPARC board chair Al Beddows. “The skate park is an integral part of Sooke’s recreation amenities, and these improvements further our commitment to supporting sport and recreation for all members of our community.”

Radius Contracting, who has been designing and building skate parks for 18 years, has been hired to lead the concept design project. Known for dynamic and engaging parks, SEAPARC teamed up with Radius to create a park that is “locally inspired and will be enjoyed by the skateboarding community for many years to come.” Funds have already been allocated to complete a concept design. 

“The skate park renewal project is key to ensuring the longevity of this much loved community asset that is in significant need of repair,” said District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “Anytime we can plan and support outdoor spaces like these, particularly ones that are a recreational hub for our youth, it is a great investment.”

Over the next month, SEAPARC will be looking for public opinion before they move onto the next steps. Hosting an interactive design workshop on May 6 at SEAPARC Recreation Centre, the event will go from 5:30 to 7:30pm. There will also be an online survey from May 7 to 28, as well as a draft design presentation workshop when more details are confirmed.

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Around the 'Shore

🏓 Pickleball comes to Langford: Over the past weekend, Greater Victoria’s first dedicated indoor pickleball court was fully booked for its grand opening. The courts were designed to help reduce noise for neighbours. Located at 136-2950 West Shore Parkway, the new centre will be open daily from 6am to 9:30pm. [CHEK

🚓 Positive results from new mental health unit: The West Shore RCMP’s new mental health unit is producing some positive results since the partial launch of the unit in February. Working to respond in a supportive, empathetic, and timely manner, the unit was formed to provide proper support in different situations. Fully staffed since early April, the teams have attended 270 calls with a mental health component and have decreased the involuntary apprehension statistics compared to last year. 

⚠️ Greater Victoria drug advisory: On April 25, Westshore residents received a warning from Island Health about the increase of overdoses in the past few weeks, specifically caused by a toxic drug supply in the area. Island Health is advising residents to make themselves aware of safer drug use, and also what to do when someone overdoses.

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Community Events

🎳 Youth week: Join Colwood this May 2 to 7 for a celebration of BC Youth Week 2024. Hosted as a way to build a strong connection between youth and their communities, Colwood is hosting a variety of events including bowling, art, swimming, and more. Each event has different requirements, so make sure to look ahead of time to plan out your youth week. 

🌿 Broom drop-off: Sooke’s complimentary broom drop-off program is coming back to town this May, giving residents the perfect excuse to reduce wildfire hazards and remove invasive species. As broom bushes begin to spread in the area, locals are encouraged to remove the plants and bring them to the designated drop-off station at the District of Sooke Parks Yard at 2070 Kaltasin Rd. Drop-off times are from 11am to 3pm every Saturday from May 4 to 25

🦆 Duck day: Join in on a day of family fun with the Sooke Harbourside Lions’ Duck Day. Held at the Sooke River Campground this May 4, check out the rubber duck race, a variety of games and activities, a concession stand, and more. With free admission, the event runs from 11am to 2pm for anyone to enjoy.

What’s Offshore?

No ships today!

Westshore Snaps

Beecher Bay. —Richard Steward, View Royal

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