BARB DESJARDINS: Academic partnerships benefit everyone

Mayor looks at Township’s relationships with post-secondaries

Recently, Royal Roads University partnered with the Township of Esquimalt on an emergency preparedness survey, in which residents were asked to indicate their level of preparedness in the event of an earthquake.

The students presented their findings in council chambers on Oct. 12, which was broadcast live on Facebook. The chambers were full of interested spectators, who were also able to benefit by assessing their own level of preparedness.

The information the students presented will be of great value to the Township in future emergency planning.

These kinds of collaborations are vital to the community, the municipality and to academic organizations. Eager and capable students work with Township staff to find solutions to today’s complex issues. Students gain real world experience and municipalities gain critical knowledge that will help create better services and programs for residents.

The Township has partnered in this way a number of times over the years with Royal Roads University, on topics such as composting, plastic bag use, community engagement in climate action and exploring innovation in wastewater treatment technology.

In addition, our municipal archives has been working with the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia to increase the number of historical digital images available to the public online. In fact, the Township has applied for and received two grants from UBC for this project, which provides researchers, teachers and the public with access to a treasure trove of historical information.

Our academic partnerships don’t stop there. In 2013 a group of Camosun College students won first place in the Ready Set Solve program, by creating an inventory of bicycle infrastructure and mapping community cycling routes within the Township.

In 2016, a group of University Of Victoria law students were awarded second place in the same program for drafting guidelines to establish development permit areas that encourage energy, water and GHG reductions in Esquimalt.

As you can see, these valuable partnerships can lead to better public policy and community enhancement. They represent a solid foundation for future enquiry and growth.

As we strive for innovation and continuous improvement, we will continue to work with the academic community to build on previous achievements and identify future opportunities.

Barb Desjardins is the mayor of Esquimalt.

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