Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

Mayor’s message: What is a welcoming community?

This month I’d like to focus on the theme of welcoming communities and inclusiveness.

By Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins

This month I’d like to focus on the theme of welcoming communities and inclusiveness.

Council’s goal is to help create a welcoming environment in Esquimalt, working with residents, businesses, developers, community groups and stakeholders to achieve this goal.

I believe that newcomers are important to every community; they bring ideas, economic development, leadership, diversity, and vibrancy to the community. Our country, in fact, is made up of immigrants who have helped make Canada the envy of the world.

Over the years I have seen so many newcomers volunteering at community events, on council committees and with our many community organizations, bringing their many talents to the table to make our community a better place.

Council believes that community prosperity can only be achieved through welcoming newcomers and promoting inclusion. I am so happy to see a welcoming attitude amongst our residents and business community.

This welcoming attitude is being fully expressed by a newcomer welcoming event to be held at the Songhees Wellness Centre on Saturday Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The township is partnering with the Songhees Nation, the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, and the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Society to hold this event to welcome all new residents to our communities. The event represents an opportunity for local governments and service providers to bring all of their information resources together under one roof for newcomers to access.

The event grew out of our participation in the Refugee Response Team, a team of numerous community stakeholders who have been meeting to discuss resources that can be made available to Syrian refugees currently integrating into our communities. Coun. Beth Burton-Krahn is council’s representative on that team and I congratulate her and the entire team for their work in welcoming Syrian newcomers.

This event represents a major step forward and I anticipate holding it annually as we continue to work with our community partners, neighbours and local immigration organizations to promote inclusiveness.

In addition to attending this informative event, I encourage all newcomers to visit our township website to read more about the programs and services we provide through our municipal departments, and to learn more about your new home. You will find out about our recreation facilities, parks, and the latest news and events to keep you up-to-date in your community. We also have a very active social media presence which you can access to receive municipal news and updates.

I also invite new residents to stop by Municipal Hall to gather additional information resources and say hello to our friendly staff. The Esquimalt Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library is conveniently located on our ground floor, and recreation facilities are only a few short steps away.

We have also put together a welcome package for newcomers at Municipal Hall and I would be happy to deliver this package personally to new residents. Please call 250-414-7101 for more information.

For more information on the Newcomer Welcoming Event on visit esquimalt.ca.