We want you to be part of our community
– Brampton Commissioner of Community Services Jamie Lowery
“Councillor Dhillon’s insights will certainly help us and his knowledge of the community will certainly help us. I guess one of the main things is for the media to help us, to let people know that these facilities are for them and we’re committed to making sure they enjoy them and the customer service is top notch, because again it’s the tax payers that pay for it.”
If you are holding a cultural festival or an event, the City of Brampton welcomes you. Having these kind of events in the City also promotes good neighbourly feelings whereby communities look out for each other, says Brampton Commissioner of Community Services Jamie Lowery.
“We will do what we can to help promote their [South Asian] events and support their events. That’s how you also make your community safer. If your neighbours know each other, they look out for each other, it’s automatically safer because people are talking to each other and you’re out looking for each other. So it’s in the city’s best interest to support the community best we can within our means and certainly it is a priority to make sure that these kind of events,” says Mr. Lowery.
Almost half of Brampton’s population is South Asian. Is this community engaged? Commissioner Lowery’s belief is South Asians “are engaged.” Those of us who go to Brampton have noticed a large number of South Asian seniors sitting in the malls, parks and community centres, and riding bicycles on roads.Commissioner Lowery’s belief that the South Asian community is engaged is based “on the number of seniors groups we have. We have 48 teenage groups but certainly when we have recreational programming, South Asian communities utilize them. Is there more that we could be doing? I think we are constantly finding ways to reach out to the South Asian communities and to get them more engaged in our community because really we are in the business of supporting all members of the community.” Community Services department of the City of Brampton has proposed $96 million operating budget for 2011-12. The money is spent on Animal Services, Brampton Clean City, Cemeteries, Community Centres, Fire & Emergency Services, Fitness & Sports, Parks, Trails & Pathways, Rose Theatre, Recreational Activities, Sports & Leisure and Trees, Plants & Flowers. Department of Community Services has approximately just over 3,000 employees – full time, part time and temporary. The City of Brampton is growing at a rapid pace. With the new neighbourhoods, parks and recreational facilities are important for the well being of the community. Commissioner Lowery’s department provides parks and recreation to the community.
Commissioner Lowery tells us that “with every new development in the city, parks are a big component of that. We also have about 6,000 acres of park land throughout the city..The demand is certainly out there for rec centres, our programs are quite robust so I would say that we are very well equipped as a community with our community centres.”
Commissioner Lowery is content with the federal government’s commitment to help municipalities under Canada Economic Action Plan. The federal stimulus dollars has helped the City spend on projects “that would have never have happened without the funding and so it basically helped us accelerate some of the work that our infrastructure was lagging behind in.”
Diverse communities have diverse needs. Commissioner Lowery’s department has had requests to have a separate swimming pool for Muslim women.
Commissioner Lowery’s department has responded to the need. “Instead of isolating that community, and saying it’s just for Muslim women, we’ve made it a women’s swim..we’ve put up curtains. When we did some of our renovations in our rec centres, we put more family change rooms in, so there is a heightened sense of privacy. That has gone over really well, not only with the Muslim community but with all the communities,” says Mr. Lowery.
In 2010, most swimming related deaths occurred in immigrant communities. The City of Brampton offers swimming lessons at a very affordable price for its residents.
City of Brampton’s Fire and Emergency Services is known to be one of the finest in Canada. Commissioner Lowery advises the residents to take fire prevention measures. “A lot of emphasis is on smoke alarms, so protect yourself with a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. Also young kids go through our fire life safety building, and general awareness. Our fire department is also active in marketing and educating people on child seat safety. A lot of our material is used in other parts of Canada to train and educate people,” says Mr. Lowery.
Commissioner Lowery’s message to the South Asian community is simple. “We really want you to be a part of our community. We’re here to listen and to take your ideas and we want you to be involved as much as you can in the great city of Brampton. We have some great facilities, and amenities that you are welcomed to take advantage of. If you have some ideas of improving our services we certainly want to hear them.”
City’s commitment to diversity is also evident by appointing Brampton City Councillor Vic Dhillon, one of the few South Asian Councillors in the Greater Toronto Area as the Chair of Community Services.
“His insighs will certainly help us and his knowledge of the community will certainly help us. I guess one of the main things is for the media to help us, to let people know that these facilities are for them and we’re committed to making sure they enjoy them and the customer service is top notch, because again it’s the tax payers that pay for it,” states Commissioner Lowery.