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Each incumbent mayor in Greater Victoria (of which there are 13) have been given an opportunity to share with Victoria Sports News website visitors, their answers to a uniform set of questions related to sport and recreation in their municipality and throughout Greater Victoria.
Greater Victoria refers to the usual communities that make up the “city”: Sooke, Metchosin, Colwood, Langford, Esquimalt, Highlands, View Royal, Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Victoria and Oak Bay.
Greater Victoria is considered a very active community where the people have a very high standard of physical activity in comparison to other cities around North America. In regards to perspectives on recreation, health, fitness, sports, alternative transportation and green initiatives, not everyone is on the exact same page. Below Highlands Mayor Ken Williams answers questions about sport and recreation in her community.
The Questions and the Answers – Metchosin Mayor John Ranns
VSN: There are several parks in Greater Victoria, Beacon Hill (and the BHP friends society) comes to mind as the most robust. Some have bylaw(s) that discriminate against commercial activity from taking place within the park boundary. Commercial activity can include hanging a sponsor sign (let’s be real here). This often prevents sporting events from taking place in those parks.
What is your opinion on the nature of the bylaw(s) in regards to their effect on your resident’s or community’s ability to host sporting events? Do you have plans to visit preventative-like bylaws and seek to change them?
Mayor John Ranns: We do not have bylaws that would limit sponsor advertising during events.
VSN: What are your plans for infrastructure improvements related to, recreational facilities, playgrounds, ballparks, access to the outdoors for the challenged and civic events?
John Ranns: We recently purchased (cash from reserves) Metchosin Elementary School which includes playing fields, gymnasium etc. Our long-term vision for the school is a subregional arts and recreation centre linked with our existing facilities, however, that won’t happen until we replenish our reserves. There is an active public space study currently underway but for the next several years any infrastructure improvements will be contingent on grant funding.
VSN: What is your general opinion on Greater Victoria hosting major games such as Commonwealth Games or Pan Am Games?
John Ranns: I was Mayor through the planning and execution of the 94 Commonwealth Games and while there was initial opposition most agreed afterward that it had been worthwhile. However, times have changed. The property tax burden has increased substantially and the core sewer project will push many to their limit of ability to pay. There already is inter-municipal cooperation on smaller events but I doubt the public will accept another major international one.
VSN: With Greater Victoria’s beautiful sport and recreation-friendly environment, how can the area municipal leaders work together to bring in more sport and recreation tourism? What initiatives may you currently be undertaking?
John Ranns: As co-owners of the West Shore Parks and Recreation facility, the west shore municipalities and particularly Langford are able to work together to offer a broad range of sports opportunities. Metchosin will be acquiring 380 acres of wilderness parkland but how it is utilized is yet to be determined and will be subject to discussion with Beecher Bay First Nation. As for the rest, we are always looking for partnership opportunities.
VSN: For the grassroots level sports to have something to strive towards, keeping the top-rung teams in the market is important. Transportation on and off the island is difficult for island teams at all levels, as well as teams that visit the island. Are there efforts to lobby BC Ferries to better accommodate the cost-restrictive ferry fees? Is there anything you would do or endorse in such an effort?
John Ranns: Having been a lacrosse player, coach and parent to four lacrosse loving children I know full well how expensive it is for teams to travel off the island on a regular basis. In the grand scheme of things, Metchosin doesn’t have a whole lot of influence but I certainly would support any effort to relieve the cost of team travel.
VSN: Would you challenge area mayors and councillors and candidates in the potential, Victoria Sports News Mayor’s Pickleball Tournament?
Who would you take from your council as a teammate; it would be a double tourney? And which mayor or candidate would you like to beat the most?
John Ranns: Pickelball??? A few years ago, I tried too hard to be a tennis player and ended up with a bad case of tennis elbow. After that, I vowed to stick to contact sports.