Melissa Harrigan: CK Election & Sports Interview

Below are the Chatham-Kent Election and Sports interview responses from Ward 1, Tilbury council candidate Melissa Harrigan. Remember to vote October 22.

Name: Melissa Harrigan

Hometown and Ward: Tilbury, ON – Ward 1

What’s your sports/recreation background?

Sports and athletics have always been a big part of my life. Growing up in Chatham-Kent, I played a number of sports: badminton, basketball, broomball (a Chatham-Kent classic!), and beach volleyball. I also enjoyed swimming competitively in summer leagues. I met my husband while coaching swimming, and today, we still enjoy both playing and coaching sports of all kinds. Our children are at the age where sports are becoming big parts of their lives. As parents, we have a ‘try everything once’ attitude towards sports and recreation. This past year, we coached our boys’ soccer team in Tilbury, and are helping to coach their baseball team with the Chatham-Minor Baseball Association.

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?

Sports and recreation create a sense of community and belonging. As a board member of our regional YMCA, I see first-hand how sports and athletics can bring people together, and challenge them to go further. People can bond over recreation and sports in a way that levels socio-economic playing fields. For those who are not involved in sports directly, wellness can also bring a sense of community. Trails, paths, and safe streets are important to promote wellness through walking and cycling.

Sports and recreation are also anchors in which people can give back to the community.
Our family has hosted numerous sport-tournaments for charity, to celebrate birthdays or
to support local charities. They are always a great time, for a great cause. In many
ways, sports and recreation create community.

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?

Investing in infrastructure to support health and wellness in Chatham is important, and this includes renewing aging infrastructure, while simultaneously supporting our other recreational assets in smaller communities. I believe that maintaining and investing in infrastructure for our arenas is important for the success of all of our ice-based sports across Chatham-Kent. When it comes to a new arena, the big decisions are around scope and size. If elected to council, I would carefully consider the capital, economic opportunities, partnerships, and ongoing operational costs in my decision making. I support investing in infrastructure in Chatham-Kent, but we have also gotten ahead of ourselves with capital projects in the past, so we need to support our capital planning with strong, realistic, business plans, so we all benefit long term.

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 think our region has what I would call “year round opportunity” for sports and recreation. I would like to work to make it easier for community groups to gain access or rent community space for recreation in our community, and see increased investments into developing the waterways and water-based recreation in my Ward. Wheatley and Tilbury are especially connected to our waterways, and I see water recreation (motorized and non-motorized) as being an opportunity. I also think leveraging creative partnership models will help all our communities achieve their recreational goals.

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

I am excited to help our community work towards achieving its goals, and look forward to the opportunity to engage with residents to understand their issues and concerns. Health and Wellness is one of my campaign priorities, alongside supporting small business and entrepreneurship, agriculture, and infrastructure, all while focusing on families at all stages of life in Chatham-Kent.

Connect with me on Facebook @electMelissaHarrigan, or Twitter @MsHarrigan

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