VICTORIA -- Sooke’s population has been expanding over the last few years with single-family homes popping up everywhere.

“Sooke has become very popular now,” says Clive Greenaway of Greenaway Realty. “It’s most certainly a very different town from even two years ago.”

With the cost of real estate being lower in Sooke, young families and retirees have been moving in. The problem is, commercial and retail spaces are not keeping up with the population growth.

“We don’t have any real commercial space here in Sooke,” says Karen Mason, president of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve got a couple of strip malls and the rents in those strip malls is arguably very high.”

A new proposal from the Postmark Group would see a six-storey development, reaching from Highway 14 all the way down to the waterfront. It would be built out of mass timber, with 220 condos and 40,000 square feet of commercial retail space.

“We’re really looking to incorporate what the district wants in this development in terms of walkability and lifestyle,” says Becki Allen, COO at the Postmark Group. “We’re going to go underground with parking, so there will be ample parking.”

“Seventy-four per cent, I believe, of our working population commutes outside of municipality to work every day,” says Dana Lajeunesse, acting Mayor of Sooke.

The acting mayor can’t speak for the entire council but he says proposals like this one are needed in Sooke.

“To have more people living, working and spending their money in Sooke is absolutely crucial,” says Lajeunesse.

There are approximately 750 businesses in Sooke. Many are home-based and the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce says the lack of commercial space is holding many businesses back.

“So these people have nowhere to go or to expand their businesses,” says Mason. “So to be able to provide commercial space to these people is really important.”

The Postmark Group is hoping to bring the proposal in front of Sooke council by the end of the month.