Earlier this month I proclaimed February as Family Month in Esquimalt.
I am a firm believer that the family is fundamental to our society. In my own life and in the lives of those around me, I see how families provide strength and inspiration, comfort and support.
A “family” can also be much more than those directly related to you; networks of friends and supporters are also families and can be just as inspirational, perhaps more so for some.
Individuals nurtured by their families have the confidence to strike out in the world and make meaningful contributions to society.
A healthy community is one where families are supported in a number of ways, including through public policies and municipal strategic priorities that enhance opportunities for growth, health and liveability.
Our Official Community Plan – which will be completed later this spring – provides a framework for this support.
It creates a healthy mixture of housing types, encourages all modes of transportation, including cycling and walking, and enhances our parks and recreation facilities for the benefit of all community members.
Looking around the community I see families taking advantage of our local facilities and programming.
For instance, Esquimalt Parks and Recreation has developed programs that encourage youth to explore their creativity and their surroundings through art, photography, cooking, hiking, fitness and swimming.
Last year our parks system was enhanced with the opening of the Esquimalt Adventure Park, a family-oriented facility with playgrounds, a fitness circuit, picnic areas and – very popular with kids in the summertime – a splash pad.
To be a complete community in the future we look to maintain a mix of housing types that will support young, as well as multi-generational families.
The Township is committed to ensuring older adults live active, socially engaged and independent lives.
Our age-friendly assessment, completed in 2016, indicates that the proportion of our population over 65 will rise to 28 per cent by 2038, up 12 per cent from 2011. This is a significant population redistribution and we will need to plan for this demographic shift.
This year council is looking for public input into the use of the McLoughlin Point amenity reserve funds.
Within the framework of capital projects in waterfront parks, recreation facilities and public safety facilities, we are looking for ideas that can benefit the entire community and provide additional opportunities for families.
An Ideas Fair scheduled for Feb. 22 in council chambers was designed to capture community input into the use of the funds.
A number of other opportunities will be coming up, including an online survey, a mobile Ideas Gallery at community events and Idea Walls located in Township facilities.
Barb Desjardins is mayor of the Township of Esquimalt.