Susan Belford for Council
Strong Community Safe People
I believe that the strength of a community depends on how well it prepares for and survives sudden changes. The safety of community members rests on a secure place to call home – warm in winter and cool in summer, enough food to eat, access to healthcare and an opportunity to prosper. As a member of Council, I will commit to help build a resilient community.
Path to a Resilient Community
Slow growth, lower densities – let’s support our existing community
Strong, local economy – good jobs at local businesses
Good homes for everyone – affordable, comfortable year-round, “low carbon”
Less traffic congestion – local buses, ridesharing, walking and cycling lanes
Protected green spaces and recreational areas – don’t build in our parks
Susan Belford, Council Candidate
Always Consider Climate
Everything we love depends on a healthy climate.
Ensuring new buildings can withstand heat events and retrofitting existing buildings will help us adapt to a changing climate. Preservation of waterways and the shoreline will protect homes from rising sea levels and storm surges. Protection and enhancement of our forested lands – both public and private – will provide cooling, conserve ground water and store carbon.
Thoughtful, Green Growth
As Sooke's population climbs above 15,000, our town is at a crossroads. Recent rapid growth has increased traffic congestion, stressed infrastructure, increased climate-changing emissions, and changed the very look and feel of our town. What we do now will affect Sooke for a long time to come. We can and should slow growth and focus first on development that serves Sooke's future. If elected to Council, I commit to an approach to growth that keeps our community’s well-being and safety top of mind.
Traffic that Flows
Increasing numbers of people are travelling Sooke's one road in and out of town. Sooke neighbourhoods all connect to that same road, increasing congestion. People are forced to drive because they live far from things they need or they don’t work in the community. If Sooke's excellent Transportation Master Plan were implemented now, it would solve our traffic problems. There would be bike lanes, sidewalks, trails and neighbourhood linkages, and an improved bus service that would make it easier to get around Sooke car-free.
Thriving, Local Economy
For many years, Sooke councils have promoted a more robust local economy, but not much has happened except the addition of some large chain stores. The District could stimulate construction of co-working spaces as well as commercial and industrial spaces with reduced rents to better support local Sooke businesses. As more people live and work in Sooke, the volume of commuters and traffic congestion will both decrease. As a bonus, so do our greenhouse gas emissions.
Homes for Everyone
Many Sooke residents can't find a place to live. We need an alternative to expensive, single-family homes. Sooke needs apartments, town-homes — even tiny homes — with generous common green space around them. Municipally built rental housing could ensure truly affordable housing and return a modest income. As part of the District’s commitment to the climate emergency, all buildings need to be as close to zero greenhouse gas emissions as possible.
In summer, urban areas with a lot of hard surface trap heat. In winter rain storms, they contribute to run-off and flooding. In all seasons they increase risk to Sooke citizens and property. Lucky for us that the remedy is known, easy and delightful! Lower densities, replant and reforest damaged greenspaces, replace asphalt with permeable pavers, make rain gardens, require green-spaces and community gardens in all new developments, and plant trees. We can have a Sooke that lives up to its slogan: "Where the rainforest meets the sea"
Healthy Forested Lands
Much of Sooke's forested land is privately owned. Development can easily destroy a forested hillside. We need to protect the remaining forests. Sooke needs to find ways to support large landowners to keep their forests intact, perhaps with incentive such as reduced property tax in exchange for the carbon capture their lands provide.
I grew up in Victoria and loved our family's trips out to Sooke, always hoping I could come here to live one day. Finally, in 2019, I realized that dream.
I care deeply about the world my grand-daughter will inherit and I am committed to making it — and this beautiful corner of it — the best place possible, particularly given the potential impacts of climate change.
As a retired mediator, I look for ways people with different views can come together in shared understanding.
I have been active on Council committees in many places I've lived. In 2021-2022, I served on Council’s Land Use and Development Committee. I have regularly attended and addressed Council meetings. I have the knowledge and skills to make a positive, informed contribution to District decision making.
I am involved with several Sooke community organizations.
I am grateful to the T'sou-ke, and Scia'new peoples for their care and stewardship of these lands through the millennia.