John Phillips park lease goes to negative vote

Sooke Lions Club community centre proposal moves ahead unless 10% of residents oppose

Sooke district council eyes a development plan for John Phillips Memorial Park. (File - Sooke News Mirror)

If anyone can show just cause why the District of Sooke should not enter into a 50-year lease to allow the Sooke Lions Club to build a community centre at John Phillips Park, fill out the proper form or forever hold your peace.

Council is mulling the first significant project at John Phillips Memorial Park. The development would see the Sooke Lions Club build a two-storey multi-use building on the site, including a community centre, daycare, clubhouse, offices, and concession. The club also hopes to construct an outdoor stage in the future on the two-acre site.

RELATED: Lions eye community centre at John Phillips Park in Sooke

However, an integral part of that deal is the Lions club selling a property on Murray Road to the district and obtaining a 50-year lease (with two 25-year options to renew) at the park.

Because John Phillips Memorial Park is a dedicated parkland, council cannot approve a lease without the approval of electors.

Critics of the deal can stop the project by filling out an alternative approval process form and submitting it to the corporate officer’s office by 4 p.m. on Sept. 15.

If fewer than 1,123 voters, or 10 per cent of eligible voters, oppose the lease, council will vote on final adoption. If more than 10 per cent of the district’s voters quash the lease, council will have the option of moving to assent voting, which is essentially a referendum. A referendum would likely cost upwards of $15,000, according to district staff.

Sooke Lions Club members say a community centre is needed in the community.

“The Lions Club, as well as other service clubs in town, believe there is a need for more meeting space,” said Danny Willis, who is spearheading the project for the Lions. “The Lions always try to do the best for the community and make sure what we have is sustainable.”

So far, there has been little pushback against the project.

The Lions have met with several groups in Sooke, and none have opposed the project or the concept.

“We’re trying to be open and transparent as possible,” Willis said.

To get information about the project out to the public, the Lions launched a portal ( on their website with information, drawings and the business plan, as well as an opportunity for residents to ask questions. They also plan to talk to more groups and begin a social media campaign.

“It’s important to get the message out in the next month and make sure people have accurate information to make a decision,” said Steve Lawrence, vice-president of the Sooke Lions Club.

Electoral response forms are available at Municipal Hall or on the district’s website beginning Aug. 12. Voters have until Sept. 15 to cast their ballots.

John Phillips Memorial Park is a seven-hectare parkland in the centre of Sooke and once operated as a golf course. Over the years, the district has looked at developing the park and has added walking trails.

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