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Involving Government in Deepening Community

Posted on April 16, 2019
By Hannah MacDonald

communitysafetyCommunity and individual well-being are important contributors to deepening a sense of community in order to promote community change led by those who live in the community. Community members’ feelings of safety and support is intrinsically connected to the community’s strength and success. Until recently, community plans on safety and well-being operated on a community-by-community basis in Ontario.

On January 1, 2019, the Government of Ontario mandated new legislative requirements under the police services act for municipalities to work in partnership with the community to develop and adopt community safety and well-being plans. To support the new legislation, a new Community Safety and Well-being Planning Framework: A Shared Commitment in Ontario was developed to guide this action.

The purpose of this legislation and framework is to provide supports to Ontario communities in the most effective and efficient ways. In many communities, the Police are the only 24/7 service that operates, and are therefore called to non-emergent situations that are outside of their purview. Creating a more comprehensive service delivery plan would allow for more appropriate service provider to assist the police with non-criminal situation.

The Tools

The formation of a community plan is a time-consuming process. Gathering the right stakeholders and determining the needs of the community can be messy and having to create a community plan that fits your city is not easy.  

However, the Framework provides several tools to assist you in the work:

  • The first of six tools calls for a community champion to help mobilize and motivate the community. It also calls for a coordinator, a person in the community who has some form of “knowledge or authority over community safety and well-being, such as social services.”
  • Asset mapping, a practice that involves reviewing existing services, groups, committees, social networks in the community to identify where community safety and well-being work may exist in the community. It may also be used to determine where there may be gaps in services that can be served by future projects, programs, and organizations. 
  • Engagement is a tool is intended to guide planning committees in engaging key stakeholders in the community. Key stakeholders may include community members with lived experiences, local community organizations, police, fire, medical, and other emergency services, cultural organizations, indigenous groups, and private sector organizations, among many others.  

The Work is Already Underway

Several communities in Ontario have already begun developing their community plan. Cornwall, for example, recently began the formation of their community safety and well-being committee to help guide the development of the Community Safety and Well-being Plan. The committee will be made up of representatives from the local police department, local health services, city council, local housing representatives, etc. The first task for this committee is to identify a plan for engaging community members in identifying the risk factors in Cornwall. 

The Community Safety and Well-being plan is an important step in the promotion of community well-being. Having a plan in place that will ensure that people in the community know where they can access the services they need allows for a deeper sense of community in your city.

While the work may seem daunting, Cities Deepening Community (CDC) offers resources and services that can also help in the development of a Community Safety and Well-being Plan. Learn from your peers in monthly Communities of Practices, coaching sessions or webinars. Sign up for the Cities Deepening Community newsletter and learn about work that is being done across Canada.  

Further Your Learning:

Community Development, Cities Deepening Community, Hannah MacDonald

Hannah MacDonald

By Hannah MacDonald

Hannah is a Community Animator, supporting Vibrant Communities members and online learning community in both Cities Reducing Poverty and Cities Deepening Community. Hannah recently received her Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management, with a specialization in Development Studies from Carleton University.

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