Sooke’s building permit revenue came in $493,000 over budget in 2021, as development grows throughout the West Shore.
The district forecasted $711,000 in revenue in its 2021 budget, but that number had been blown out of the water by the end of September. The total came to $1,204,418, far higher than $858,941 the district earned in 2020.
Mayor Maja Tait said that building permits don’t necessarily mean massive amounts of new houses are being built. She said more people had been applying for permits to renovate their homes.
“With the high prices and short supply of real estate, many are thinking, ‘How can I make my home now into a forever home to meet our growing needs?’”
With delays in the shipping of various supplies and household goods due to global supply chain issues, people in Sooke could have also started to see deliveries they’d waited on for months in 2021 come in now, she added.
“We also live in a desirable place,” she said. “I met residents in the summertime that were from northern and central BC, and what we’ve experienced this year, they’ve experienced every year for the last five years, and they wanted change.”
Opinions of more development in Sooke are mixed. Some are completely against it, like Transition Sooke, a climate advocacy group, which presented to Sooke council on Dec. 13.
“We must get creative to find ways to curb our growth because the present path we’re on is not sustainable,” Alan Dolan, a Transition Sooke board member, said during the meeting. “The population growth rate is out of control.”
Mayor Tait said putting a stop to development would hurt the community in the short and long term.
“When I hear no development, then that means businesses will never be able to operate here,” she said.
She pointed to Sooke’s aging population as a factor that would boost the need for more amenities, like a senior’s drop-in centre.
“We’re at capacity with a growing population,” she said. “There’s not enough space for all of these organizations to do what they do so well in our community. What that means then is that it just exasperates the problem with more cars on the road because then folks will have to drive elsewhere to find the services they need.”