Henry Svec: CK Election and Sports Interview

Below is Henry Svec, Ward 2 Council Candidate’s answers to our CK Election and Sports Survey. Remember to vote on October 22.

Name: Henry Svec

Hometown and Ward: Blenheim Ward 2

What’s your sports/recreation background?

I was fortunate to play basketball, football and track in High School, then College Football at the University of Western Ontario. At Western I played defensive tackle and end, was an OUAA all-star in 1978 but most importantly had an opportunity to play on two National Championship Football teams in 1976 and 1977. After that I was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and was released during training camp of 1979. My wife was a University Gymnastics competitor, our three sons all played University Football.

What are your thoughts, or what value do you place in sports and recreation for the citizens of Chatham-Kent overall, and/or when showcasing Chatham-Kent to newcomers?

While I have a number of University Degrees including a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, I believe that sports played the most vital lesson, learning opportunity for myself and my family. It teaches team building, leadership and what it takes to be part of the best team in Canada. I believe that sports and recreation are extremely important at all ages, but also for most of us aging boomers. We need opportunities to have access to services in our rural communities, not just the city of Chatham. Outdoor trails are very important, but we also need recreational opportunities that fit with our climate when outdoor activities are less accessible.

One of the hot topics leading up to the election, and over the past decade has been a new twin pad arena for Chatham-Kent. Where do you stand on this? What thoughts do you have?

I believe that such arena’s need to be stand alone and be self-financing where possible. I do not believe that our Community should place one arena complex over those of all of our citizens. The annual operational costs are also significant and would place us in a deficit of significant proportion as has the Theater and the Railway project for example. I would first want to see a solid review of the state of all of our arenas in all of our communities before one even considered such a large project. The Municipal obligation on a large project such as this should be significantly limited and have the private sector take on the brunt of that risk.

Do you have any other ideas or plans that would impact health, wellness, sports, or recreation in Chatham-Kent, and specifically in your Ward?

I believe that our community based recreation and leisure facilities in towns with less than 7,500 people should not be paying property taxes on their buildings. The Blenheim Curling Club for example pays 10% of its’ membership fees to CK for taxes. This hurts a community based recreational center. It’s the same for the Gymnastics club and the Rondeau Rod and Gun Club for example. I would also want to talk to the High School about creating a Center of Excellence for Football in the Province. Blenheim District High School has an outstanding football history, providing a model of an “academy” to attract outstanding Ontario High School Football Players would be an idea I would want to talk to them about. A similar Hockey School would also be possible. Students would attend classes in the morning and then in the afternoon train for their sport. While this would be a private-public partnership with the School Board, Municipal Council could in principal support this with existing infrastructure and existing staffing (no increase in costs) to support such an initiative. I would also want to work with the local gymnastics club in Blenheim to see if such a Public-Private partnership is possible. I was going to announce this later in the campaign but as you asked I think it should be discussed here.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers and voters?

Sports have always played a significant part of my own and families life. It is time for a change with Municipal Council. I do believe that electing someone with a history of sports involvement, who understands the need to sacrifice to achieve a goal as I have, would be of great benefit to Blenheim and surrounding area and Chatham Kent. Thank you for this opportunity.

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