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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council presented with Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

-Essex participants voiced affordable housing, community activities,

transportation, mental health services as important-

Graphic captured from the Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan: A Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is an approach using multi-sector partnerships to proactively enhance or develop strategies to address local priorities, related to crime and complex social issues. It also emphasizes preventative interventions and activities.

by Sylene Argent

During a special Council meeting on the evening of July 5, Council heard from John Matheson of StrategyCorp regarding the ongoing development of the Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.

  “What has been quite remarkable about them, is they bring together a lot of very important, different groups of people, who serve the community through various different lenses,” Matheson said of the plans.

  The whole logic behind the Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is not waiting until the end of an incident to respond. The point is to either intervene before the incident or prevent the risks to keep issues from happening.

  The development of the local plan brought together all sorts of different community groups – ranging from the police to those in housing, mental health, addictions, and education – to try and take a holistic approach to the identification of risks, Matheson said.

  “If you only understood one thing about what Community Safety and Well-Being Planning is about, it is about trying to change the way we think about delivering services to put people at the centre, instead of making people figure out how to navigate organizations,” Matheson commented.

  The Report submitted to Council on the matter notes Community Safety and Well-Being planning is an approach that uses multi-sector partnerships to proactively enhance or develop strategies to address local priorities related to crime and complex social issues.

  Throughout the project, many consultations have taken place. Locally, the Plan is being guided by the Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Systems Leadership Table and the Enhanced Sector Network, which will create a Regional Plan that includes recommendations as well as appendices for each municipality. This will consist of community data profiles, identifying priority risks and protective factors, identifying assets, and an analysis of public consultation data.

  Once regional Councils endorse the plan, partners can work toward implementing shared goals and strategies.

  Matheson explained public consultations for the plan included virtual public meetings, including one that was held with Essex residents in March, in each regional municipality. In addition, a survey on the matter was issued, of which 840 surveys were submitted from across the Region; 50 of those being from Essex residents. Through public consultations, local priorities were identified, in addition to issues across Risk and Protective Factor categories, such as crime and victimization, physical health, financial security, mental health and substance use, education, housing and neighbourhoods, vulnerable populations, in addition to COVID-19.

  Some of the needs provided from Essex residents through the project included affordable and/or attainable housing, access to affordable leisure activities for children, resident and community safety, in addition to the need for mental health and substance abuse services, employment skills development, and specialized education programs. Additional comments from Essex-based respondents included the need for more accessible transportation options, within and between municipalities, and the importance of avoiding school closures.

  He also spoke of reducing barriers among providers and agencies, under the Good Governance and Data category. 

  Matheson said, as this plan is being developed in regions across the province, the best practices and ideas will be shared between communities. Community Safety and Well-Being Plans became a requirement of the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

  As of January 1, 2019, the Safer Ontario Act, 2018 requires municipalities to prepare and adopt community safety and well-being plans in partnership with a multi-sectoral advisory committee. The local plan must be submitted and endorsed by City and County Councils by December 31, 2021.

  The next steps in finishing the local plan include continuing to work on the priorities and strategies and developing a performance and measurement plan. In the fall, the finalized plan will be presented to Councils within the Windsor-Essex Region.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said there is a lot of room for improvement on the matter and she has ideas to help implement those improvements, including, in the short-term, having conversations about traffic enforcement and speeding. She would also like a community centre added to Harrow.

  Council has a responsibility to work on the plan, she said.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said the matter of mental health is something Council can reach out to organizations for cooperative programs, to ensure health services are more accessible in the community. Transportation needs to be looked at as well. He noted it is costly. Grants are, however, being made available. 

  Mayor Larry Snively agreed mental health is a big issue. He likes the progress being made to address mental health.

  Members of Essex Council received the presentation. Members of the Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan Committee are working to make similar update presentations at area municipalities. 


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