By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A long-time member of Chatham-Kent’s administrative team is moving on.
Jeff Bray, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces — which includes the municipality’s 10 arenas — is taking on a new role in St. Thomas.
The announcement was made before Chatham-Kent council April 26.
Mayor Darrin Canniff and Thomas Kelly, manager of infrastructure and engineering for Chatham-Kent both commended Bray for his service.
When it comes to advertising, Chatham-Kent council has voted in favour of taking a ‘balanced approach’ regarding the support of local media.
A motion from Chatham Coun. Marjorie Crew was approved April 26. It calls on the municipality to spend advertising spend dollars locally, in addition to increasingly popular social media platforms.
“We want to look at our own local media through an age-friendly lens,” Crew told council, adding the municipality needs to examine “all aspects of advertising in Chatham-Kent.”
The municipality has come under fire recently for funnelling advertising dollars disproportionately to social media giants such as Facebook.
A new administrative position — aimed at levelling the playing field in Chatham-Kent — is in the works.
Following a presentation from Chatham-Kent Public Health Director Teresa Bendo April 26, council approved the hire of a co-ordinator that will handle diversity, equity and inclusion issues within the municipality.
Dedicating resources to the matter, said Bendo, is part of a strategy to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local population.
Bendo told council the impacts of the pandemic are “not equal among groups, because of long-standing unfair differences.”
She singled out four categories that profoundly impact health, including adequate income, affordable housing, access to food and access to harm reduction services.
The establishment of a municipal diversity, equity and inclusion strategy is needed, Bendo explained, to address the disadvantages people face, through no fault of their own.
“We’re seeing the world around us change and we can’t do it alone,” she said, adding the issue needs to be examined as the affected demographic is not truly understood.
Chatham councillor Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, a veteran leader with the United Way, said she was “very pleased” to support the creation of the position as it was “long overdue.”
She said the effort speaks of action that started in the 1960s, with social equality in Chatham-Kent being part of the conversation for the past 25 years.
Kirkwood-Whyte said it’s time to give the matter “well deserved attention” to build “quality of life for all citizens.”
No wage amount was given for new position, but the money will be taken from the municipality’s Ontario Works corporate reserve.
The new hire has been approved as a two-year pilot project.