Today’s Poll

New policy proposed on under-subscribed Sports Ambassador position

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
September 16th, 2023

The City’s Sports Ambassador program has been increasingly undersubscribed with nominations since it was first created four years ago, prompting City council to consider changes.

Third reading was given on a policy to create more flexibility in the selection process, with the proposal to remove the requirement for a call for applications.

The policy would also provide council with flexibility to assess the current state of sports and recreation in the community and select a worthy candidate to receive the designation without utilizing a formal call for applications, said city deputy corporate officer, Gabriel Bouvet-Bosclair, in his report to council on Sept. 12.

“I believe this is an appropriate avenue to go down because it preserves the program and allows council, based what you are hearing back from the community, to put forward nominations and to consider their merit as a group,” he said.

City staff would continue to support administration of the policy which would include:

• working directly with council to ensure a selection is made in a timely manner;
• providing council with any requested information on sports and recreation matters in the community in advance of any selection;
• contacting the intended selection to ensure that they would accept the designation; and
• ensuring that the selection is properly unveiled at council’s Annual Reception in line with other awards and designations.


A look back

The Sports Ambassador program was instituted in 2019 in response to requests from recreation and sporting groups in the community, said Bouvet-Bosclair, for the annual selection of a sports ambassador to represent the city.

The policy sought to honour the city’s “rich legacy of athletic/recreational achievements and to acknowledge the contribution these pursuits bring to the city.” An ambassador also receives a $1,000 honorarium along with the appointment.

When a sports ambassador is selected, City staff puts out a call for applications and nominations in the fall and subsequently, City council receives them and selects an applicant in advance of the new year.

In previous years, the call for applications has been advertised in the City’s social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram), through an advertisement in the newspaper, and by directly contacting sports and recreational groups in the community and asking them to spread the word and encourage worthy individuals to apply.

“Despite use of these avenues, staff have observed that soliciting applications/nominations is difficult and time-consuming, and results in costs for advertising fees,” said Bouvet-Bosclair.

And over the four-year lifespan of the program the nomination have dwindled.



Cross communication

Coun. Leslie Payne thought the issue was more of a communication issue in getting the word out to the community that nominations were open for the sports ambassador position.

She wondered if there were different ways that the City hasn’t advertised.

“What I would want to know is why we haven’t been more successful in attracting applications, because this is part of the challenge we are facing,” she said.

Bouvet-Bosclair  said the City did reach out to a group of over 20 sports groups in the last call for nominations and, ultimately, did not receive any.

“So I am not sure where the disconnect is. My understanding is this was initially a request from sporting groups, so it would be nice to see more involvement,” he said. “I don’t believe that it is that we are not reaching these groups. But I am not sure of how else we would advertise the program.”

The comment spurred more questions from Payne.

“So my question then is: ‘Are we trying to implement something that doesn’t have value to the community? If there was value to the community would they not come forward? Am I missing something?” she asked.

Bouvet-Bosclair said it was his personal opinion the sports ambassador program did have value.

Notably, the Cultural Ambassador Policy, which is similarly advertised, has also seen relatively few applicants and nominees in recent years.

If the policy amendment passes fourth reading and adoption without any changes, there will be no call for applications for sports ambassador this fall.

“Rather, staff will work with council to assist in selecting an applicant, ensure the applicant would accept the award, and then ensure that the sports ambassador designation is broadly communicated to the public follow the unveiling at council’s Annual Reception,” said Bouvet-Bosclair.

Categories: Community


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