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Interview with Port Hardy’s new manager of recreation and community services

Naomi Heith grew up here in Port Hardy and is excited to bring more recreation programs to the town
Naomi Heith is the District of Port Hardy’s new manager of recreation and community services. (Port Hardy Recreation Facebook photo)

Port Hardy’s new manager of recreation and community services, Naomi Heith, grew up here in town and said she spent many years fishing, playing soccer, attending youth group, swimming, exploring and “just being a kid.”

“As a young adult I had an itch to get away to the city and was in Abbotsford for 14 years,” she noted. “Three years ago my husband, Geoff, and our four kids decided to move and make Port Hardy our home and we are happy we did. It is incredible to be surrounded by nature; the wildlife, ocean, forest, trails, and peacefulness and awe it brings when you are in it.”

She feels Port Hardy is “a great community, my extended family lives here, and I love the small town feel. When I moved back I wanted to make sure that my kids still had access to programs and events, plus I love being around people and hosting these types of events.”

Heith agreed to an interview with the North Island Gazette about her new position, which you can read in full below.

North Island Gazette: Is the manager of recreation and community services the same job as Tanya Kaul’s previous position as director of recreation?

Heith: The manager of recreation and community services is basically the same job as the previous director position with a different title. The District of Port Hardy is filling job positions that will support the manager position and other positions within the district; these positions include the director of operations services, projects manager, and the community outreach coordinator position which will move from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. Right now I’ve been trying to balance both positions to ensure that all the programs we have planned until the end of June continue to run.

North Island Gazette: What are you aiming to bring to Port Hardy as the manager of recreation and community services?

Heith: Ideas are endless at the recreation centre. We will continue to listen to the community for what interests them, liaison with other organizations and support them in what they are doing, and with the pool opening soon we have lots of fun ideas: pool parties, adult spa night, swimming lessons and summer camps.

North Island Gazette: How many employees does Port Hardy Recreation have and what do they bring to the table?

Heith: Port Hardy Recreation has 18 employees and that will continue to grow as we fully staff our pool with lifeguards. We have myself as the manager, Melinda Dennison as the recreation office coordinator, Chris Olney as the lead hand in the arena, Tanya Cox as our recreation clerk, Kerry Chambers as our head lifeguard, and then several other staff who bring innovation, hard work, energy and excitement to our recreation centre so that we can offer the best programs and maintenance to our the facilities.

North Island Gazette: What made you want to apply for the position?

Heith: At first I wasn’t interested in applying for the manager position, I loved the community outreach coordinator job, it brought me so much joy and has been a lot of hard work but is also rewarding when you know people appreciate the service you provide. Within my COC job I oversaw staff, contractors and vendors, it also required multi-tasking, tight deadlines, being detail oriented and people focused; these are all qualifications that were needed in the manager position so I felt it would be a natural transition. As well, since moving to Port Hardy I was working two jobs; I worked at the Recreation Centre and then at Eagle View Elementary School as an education assistant. I then left the EA position at the school and accepted a position with Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society as the executive director. Shortly after I was offered the manager position at the recreation centre and it made sense to accept it and be able to focus all my time and energy into one position. I worked closely with the previous director, Tanya Kaul, so I have a good understanding with what is required to help Port Hardy Recreation succeed.

North Island Gazette: What are some of your favourite recreation activities here in Port Hardy and around the North Island?

Heith: My favourite recreation activities are festivals, comedy shows, FiLoMi Days, camping, exploring the beach, playing board games, eating at local restaurants, connecting with friends, family and the community.

North Island Gazette: You’re originally from Port Hardy, do you feel recreation is looked at differently now than it was when you were growing up?

Heith: Port Hardy’s recreation has evolved from when I grew up here. We did have things like the pool, skating, and bowling, but now it is growing with the talent of individuals, organizations offering more. We have groups coming from all over that offer concerts, art classes, comedy nights and performances.

North Island Gazette: What are your thoughts on how recreation can continue to grow here in the future?

Heith: Port Hardy Recreation is always growing and changing. I want to continue to work on finding ways to connect with youth, adapt to make things inclusive, reach people that aren’t aware of what we offer and make sure to meet the community where they are at. Once the new community outreach coordinator is hired it will be cool to hear what interests and talents they bring to create new programs and ideas.

North Island Gazette: Is there anything you want to say to the community about your new position?

Heith: I am humbled and grateful for the support I have received so far from the mayor, council, chief administrative officer, my staff and the community about taking on this new position. It is encouraging to hear so many congratulations and positive words. I am here for the North Island in any way I can be and want to continue to build on the relationships with the user groups we have in our facilities. I can’t wait to see what the next five or 10 years bring us. We are gearing up for two events in June.

June 5 will be GoByBike week, we will be offering a free Bike to Yoga event that will incorporate a Dirt Relations Film, created and produced by Patrick Lucas, who will be there to answer questions after. This short film features how trail building and reconciliation go hand in hand with breaking down barriers to First Nations relations. As well on June 9, we will host our Hardy Hustle Half Marathon and 10K race, there is still time to register for both these events.

Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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