MUNICIPAL ELECTION: Esquimalt recreation issue a high priority

Council candidates answer voter's question on service improvements

VOTER PROFILE – KRISNA PHOSY

As a working mom, Krisna Phosy spends much of her downtime taking her eight-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son to extracurricular activities.

There’s baseball, Brownie meetings and a host of other outings.

Having programs close to home means the 39-year-old Esquimalt resident can maximize her time.“I love the fact that I can walk to the rec centre, to the library, to the parks, to the grocery store,” Phosy said.

But because of limited programming for school-aged children at Esquimalt Recreation Centre, she said she has, at times, registered her kids in programs offered in other communities. Phosy can also rattle off which pool has a giant waterslide – something Esquimalt is also lacking, she said.

“After about age five, there isn’t a whole lot that’s being offered,” she said, adding the township could enhance its partnership with École Victor-Brodeur and create one with Esquimalt High to offer more programs.“What ends up happening is it forces families to go elsewhere, to go off to Pearkes, or go off to Cedar Hill,” she said. “I would absolutely do (programs) in my own backyard.”

This election, Phosy’s preference is to vote for someone who takes the needs of families to heart. Improving recreation services for youth would be an investment in the community, she said, reasoning why it makes for a good election issue.

“We’re now seeing a rebirth of young families (in Esquimalt),” Phosy said. “If we want them to stay, you have to offer them the things that would make them stay.”

Greenspaces are also on Phosy’s mom-radar. The proposed Esquimalt Village Plan, which voters will be asked about on election ballots, is too ambitious, she said.

“I like the fact there is a park (at the municipal square) now. I like the fact you have a place where you can gather the community,” she said. “If that gets built up in the way they are proposing to do it, you won’t have that space left.”

She agrees Esquimalt needs a population boost to increase the tax base, but disagrees with proposed bylaw changes that would permit the construction of two buildings up to eight- and 12-storeys tall near Municipal Hall.

“I think putting something together on a smaller scale would be better,” said Phosy.

And there are many more issues, such as deer controls and decision-making processes on sewage treatment, that preoccupy her thoughts.

That’s why she is heading to Esquimalt’s all-candidates meeting Wednesday (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m. at Esquimalt High, 847 Colville Rd.

“I think (the meeting) would be a good way to open up the dialogue,” Phosy said.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Phosy’s question to the candidates:What would you do to enhance recreational programming in Esquimalt, particularly for school-aged children?

Meagan Brame

It’s challenging finding qualified contractors to provide programs. Township staff introduced 22 programs this fall for newborns to 12 year olds; only five programs are running due to lack of enrolment. Over the last three years I have worked to make sure that children and youth were not forgotten and I will continue to work with staff on engaging our children and youth, hoping that we can find the contractors and children to fill the classes.

Sandra Dixon

I know that the Esquimalt Recreation Centre is changing things. They are not saying much about the changes. I agree, when my son was in his teens there was not much for him to do. Someone from the Esquimalt Recreation Centre should go to the middle school and high schools and see what the students would like.

Dave Hodgins

Recreation is a fundamental building block for enhanced quality of life for individuals and families. I am in favour of enhancing recreational programming. We need to find innovative ways to fund these programs, such as partnering with public and private sector organizations. The Boys and Girls Club of Canada, for example, delivers first-rate programs through corporate sponsorship. Municipalities should use a similar model.

Lynda Hundleby

Enhancing recreational programming for all ages, especially children, represents a community investment which I would support as it promotes health and fitness, community spirit and economic development. We need to develop ways to determine the types of programs that residents and families would like and which would provide the most value. A long-range community vision could assist in facility planning and funding for such amenities as giant waterslides.

Tim Morrison

After spending two years on Esquimalt’s parks and recreation committee, I recognize that recreation is Esquimalt’s greatest success. Rather than take on new, costly projects, we should concentrate on building on our existing strengths. We should do a school-supported survey of all Esquimalt students and their parents to determine which specific activities would attract the most interest and, based on the results, implement new programs.

Bob McKie

I have to say, looking at the booklet that comes out twice a year to residents of Esquimalt, informing them of the different programs available to their children to participate in, (the number of available programs) has not decreased. But the costs have increased considerably and that can be brought back on the table for a second look, as I think every child should be able to participate in these activities and we are here to make sure our residents have full access to our programs. A partnership between the rec centre and the two high schools can be worked out (and) I am all for going ahead and getting this in place to benefit our community.Josh Steffler

I would suggest a children’s festival, a celebration of the youth in Esquimalt. Also, adding some new playground equipment back into our local parks and playgrounds (such as) old fashioned, fun equipment, like see-saws and merry-go-rounds. There could be opportunities for more geocaching in partnership with the library or recreation centre (which could) lend or rent GPS systems to allow lower-income families to participate without having to purchase more equipment.

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