It didn't take long for Morden's outdoor recreation options to expand this summer, with the recent announcement of a full-size outdoor basketball court including two half courts to be installed by the skate park on the corner of Wardrop and 1st St.
Mayor Brandon Burley explained how this came about.
"Thanks in large part to a $127,000 grant from Valley Fiber. It came about as a consequence of our Youth Councilor, in a report in the early part of 2022, he indicated to the Council that a huge priority for youth in our community was better basketball amenities. We also found a lot of support from the Filipino community. Basketball is, of course, the national sport there, and a lot of uptake in our youth. So, that's something that we're pretty happy to have had the ability to listen and learn. I don't know that it was something we would have identified as being as important to the community, as it seems."
Salimi shared what he heard when gathering youth feedback in his new role back in November of 2021.
"When I began engaging with the youth of Morden, something that always seemed to come up in my engagement was local athletics, and especially basketball courts. Things were said such as, 'We need bigger courts,' 'We need nets that work,' 'Some of the courts aren't really well maintained.' I brought these issues to Council. A major thank you to Mayor Burley, as well as Council, who throughout my time as the Youth Council Member for the City Morden, have made it clear to me they not only appreciate, but they value the voices of Morden’s youth. They took that in and this is the result."
Valley Fiber Senior Vice President Conley Kehler said when they heard from the city basketball was being played in the Access Event Centre parking lot. They knew there needed to be a safer option and moving to the new location was a needed step. He added they consider the Pembina Valley Valley Fiber's home base, and Morden is a big part of it. This, and giving back to the communities they serve, and where their employees come from, are some reasons the project worked well for them.
"One of the funny things in the office that came up is, PC Gamer Magazine has dubbed us the best gaming ISP in Canada. And while we want everyone on a dedicated fibre Internet to enjoy their connection, we understand balance in life, and getting out to play is an important part of our lives. So, maybe PC Gamer Magazine should come and see us again, and rate Valley Fiber’s outdoor offline basketball court as their number one in Canada."
Salimi will continue to bring feedback he has gathered at Monday's board meeting, including the need for accessibility and washrooms, plus, the feedback he received from those he heard from to inspire the project.
"Some of them were really surprised like, 'Wow, Bijan,' 'Awesome,' 'Amazing,' 'Great work.' They truly now get to understand that voicing your opinion really does matter. That's something I would encourage Morden’s youth to do, to share their opinion, and to try to get involved with local politics. You might be a Councilor one day, or you might have some issues that you want to voice. I think getting acquainted with the process is something really special that I would encourage every youth in Morden to do."