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Saanich a good fit for new parks and rec director

Saanich’s newest director is here and she’s ready to move Saanich forward, one relationship at a time.

Suzanne Samborski left the City of Nanaimo after 10 years to take over as director of the parks and recreation department for the now-retired Doug Henderson.

She started on April 19, the first of an estimated 90-day learning period in which she’ll familiarize herself with employees and coworkers, Saanich’s facilities and the many community groups within it, she said.

“One of the things I’m passionate about is building relationships with the community,” Samborski said. “Working with the community doesn’t happen overnight, so I look forward to getting to know the community one individual at a time, one group at a time. Then we can keep moving Saanich forward in a direction that aligns with community values and council’s direction, which is also set by the community.”

Among her early decisions are figuring out which part of Saanich to live in, if in fact she and her partner eventually settle on a residence in Saanich. Ideally yes, but it’s a very diverse municipality after all, she added.

When the opportunity to work in Saanich came up, there was no hesitation from Samborski.

“Saanich is a respected leader in the parks and recreation field, not just here but in Canada,” she said. “It’s that mix of rural and natural settings that attracted me to it a long time ago.”

Samborski’s career journey started in Alberta, where she worked in recreation programming in Edson, Grand Prairie and Calgary, before moving to Esquimalt about 14 years ago. While acting as Esquimalt’s manager of recreation services, she earned a bachelor of commerce from Royal Roads University and a master of arts in community development from the University of Victoria.

In 2013, Samborski gave up her role as Nanaimo’s senior manager of recreation and culture to lead the creation of Nanaimo’s department of strategic relations, culture and heritage. The new department was devised to link relationships in the creative sector with the business, university and First Nations sectors, which is inline with one of Samborski’s core values of building authentic relationships.

It wasn’t until her going away party from Nanaimo that she could really measure her reach beyond city hall.

“Eighty per cent of the people who attended were from the community. When you look at those relationships, it shows you build the community first and move forward [together].”

Keep an eye out for Samborski, a Boston marathon-qualified long-distance runner, out on the trails of Saanich.

 

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