By Sam Loveys
When Mathieu Fleury left office after the last term of city council, the former Rideau-Vanier ward representative figured he’d have more time for sport.
Ten years ago, Fleury helped found the Ottawa Sport Council to provide a voice for local sport at city hall, and to better connect community sports organizations and help them provide positive experiences in their programs.
“Here we are 10 years later, with a massive impact in the local sport scene,” Fleury reflects. “Our work on behalf of the community to develop the sports strategy of the city, to renew the parks and rec master plan are strong accomplishments. Our work to support the clubs with governance, inclusion, safe sport – there’s so much work that the team has done. It’s impressive.”
Though he stepped back from political life, Fleury recently won an (uncontested) election to become the latest president of the OSC, which represents over 300,000+ sport participants across over 750 community sport organizations.
Fleury returned to City Hall on Wednesday morning for a breakfast hosted in the councillors’ lounge, to introduce the Sport Council’s role, activities and current priorities. The event drew about half the city councillors and a large chunk of the newly-elected representatives who joined council this past fall.
“Because of the majority of new councillors, it was an important opportunity to create a meet and greet environment, where we can get some folks to know that we exist, know that we’re a resource and to know our priorities and accomplishments over the past 10 years,” Fleury indicates.
“It went really well. Those connections when there’s no problem – it’s just a meet and greet, and building relationships – is really extraordinary. That’s the reason we’re involved in the local sport governance and policy space.”
OSC executive director Marci Morris, Fleury and fellow board member Shamir Kanji presented to the group. They outlined current areas of focus such as rebuilding a steady stream of community volunteers and the development and growth of inclusive sport experiences. Their most recent Sport Summit provided the first step to develop an inclusion toolkit for community sport organizations.
“There’s a new term of council, so our priority is making sure we continue to be the voice for sport, continue with the Summits, continue with priority engagements (to promote) inclusion and diversity, and safe sport,” Fleury adds.
Following the theme of more time for sport, Fleury has also become a founding board member for the Ottawa Basketball Network – an offshoot of sorts from the OSC, which will advocate for construction and greater access to gymnasiums and basketball courts.
“Modern infrastructure is a top priority of mine,” Fleury notes.
– with files from Dan Plouffe
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