2 Key Elements for Building Community Safety & Well-Being Plans

Posted on February 5, 2020
By Heather Keam
Recently, on a webinar called Building Social Capital through Community Development, we asked the 160 participants what their ideal community looks and feels like. Here's what we heard; 
  • Connected to land
  • Healthy
  • Kind
  • Joy (joyful)
  • Sharing
  • Helping each other
  • Having a purpose
  • Resilient
  • Welcoming
  • Safe
  • Engaged
  • Accepting
  • Full of Opportunities
  • Friendly

These responses got me thinking about the Community Safety and Well-Being plans that all municipalities in Ontario must develop in 2020. Last year came the announcement that Ontario municipalities must meet the legislative requirements related to mandating community safety and well-being planning under the Police Services Act (effective January 1, 2019). As part of this legislation, municipalities are required to develop and adopt Community Safety and Well-Being plans working in partnership with a multi-sectoral advisory committee. Here are some communities who have started the process:

As Ontario municipalities start their community plans, I wanted to highlight the importance of developing a diverse leadership table and the community engagement process. Developing a plan with tight timelines and pre-determined deliverables can lead to inviting the already engaged. This can mean asking them to represent a whole population or speeding through community engagement so that it’s just another box to tick.

Developing your leadership table - takes time and effort to get the right people at the table. In an article by Dan Duncan, Clear Impact, he states that you need to be authentic when bringing in community representatives or persons with lived experience. Being inclusive and diverse is more than just having a few members sitting at the table to represent the community from which they come - this creates a sense of unequal power dynamics. The ABCD Geometry Lesson diagram shows the different ways you can form your partnership with the ultimate objective/goal of having citizens and living/lived experience having an equal voice.

ABCD Geometry Lesson (2)Source: Dan Duncan, Clear Impact- Collective Impact through the lens of ABCD and RBA


Authentic Community Engagement - When we have the pressures of time to complete a plan, we tend to do something easy like public forums, surveys or interview a few keen people we know will respond. When community engagement becomes something, we must do rather than the way we do the work, this can lead to our engagement being at risk of being tokenistic. When putting a community plan together you need support and involvement from everyone at all stages and share the decision-making power. Through an Asset-Based Community Development lens, we need to consider Cormac Russell’s model of moving away from ‘doing to’ and ‘doing for’ community towards ‘doing with’ or ‘doing by’ community.

Authentic Engagement (2)

Take your Learning Further

If you have been tasked with leading the planning process or are a partner on the planning committee, here are some resources to support you in this work:

Ontario, Municipal, Heather Keam, Cities Deepening Community

Heather Keam

By Heather Keam

Heather works with municipalities and organizations to build strategies that put people at the center using Asset-Based Community Development. With over 22 years of experience in community development, she uses an ABCD approach to center people and belonging in the development of community plans and strategies through coaching and training staff teams, facilitation, and writing about ABCD and Belonging. She has a passion for the power of people and believes that people and communities are the solutions to local problems. She believes that we need to build a sense of community belonging so that people are connected to their community, and their place within it and get involved in decision-making. She also believes that municipalities need to shift the way they show up in community from doing “for” to supporting communities to do themselves.

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