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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

County receives revised Pathway to Potential Strategy aimed to reduce regional poverty

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

The County of Essex received the revised strategy for Pathway to Potential (P2P) at the April 17 meeting for information.

  This is a program the City of Windsor and the County of Essex launched in partnership to address the concerns about local poverty levels in 2008.

  Changes include moving from the previous strategy that had nine points to a document that has three core goals – strengthening priority neighbourhoods, advancing affordable regional programs, and measuring regional impact – with a set of tangible and achievable multi-year initiatives.

  The goals are supported by 10 initiatives, 29 action items, and 26 deliverables over the course of the next four-years.

  “It is a streamlined strategy that we believe is achievable over the next four-years, and hopefully one that – with success – sets up future strategies to deliver even greater impact,” Chris Loreto said, Managing Partner of StrategyCorp. Inc., the consulting firm that created the revised document.

  The County was first presented the draft version of the new document at the December 6, 2023 regular meeting, where representatives of StrategyCorp. Inc. listened to feedback from County Councillors.

  Work on the revised strategy began around a year ago.

  Loreto called the revised vision document a very focused, streamlined – and hopefully impactful – strategy when presenting the final draft to County Council.

  He said part of forming the revised strategy developed with consultation from decision-makers around the County Council and City of Windsor tables, to see how the strategy should be updated to address the ongoing challenge of poverty in the region.

  “Since our last time with Council, we have worked to refine and finalize the strategy and developed an implementation plan to execute the strategy and put the strategy in a format that is accessible and shareable with the public,” Loreto told County Council.  

  In addition to connecting with members of County and City Councils, Loreto noted StrategyCorp. Inc. connected with many stakeholders, who are actively working to address and reduce poverty in the region and working with those who are experiencing economic hardships.

  “That helped us understand…what challenges they are facing and what their needs may be, and how Pathway to Potential, in working in coordination with others that are active in helping to reduce the incidents of poverty in Windsor-Essex, what more can be done in order to help them with their circumstances, and to see more of our friends and neighbours thriving and prospering in the region,” Loreto commented, adding they also met directly with those who are experiencing poverty.

  That engagement, he said, was critical in developing the strategy.

  The strategy is anchored by a refreshed vision, mission, and values, Loreto told County Councillors. “They are refined and made clearer, more understandable.”

  It was also important to ensure the strategy could be measured, so it is understood how its action items are being performed and course correct as needed to move the needle on poverty.

  At the end of the day, there are a lot of people doing important work in helping to address poverty in the region, but it is crucial to ensure that work is coordinated, he said.

  What was heard through the consultation process, was a desire from all stakeholders to have a simplified, more focused strategy; one that does not duplicate but better marshals and coordinates efforts across those who are involved in the poverty-reduction ecosystem in Windsor-Essex to have a tangible impact.

  The data that comes out of the efforts laid out in the document will be critical in sharpening efforts in moving forward, Loreto added.

  Once approved by Essex County and Windsor Council, the next steps will include launching the RFP process for community agencies to help deliver neighbourhood focus under the first goal of strengthening priority neighbourhoods.

  With increases in food bank usage, homelessness, and the use of rec funds, Lakeshore Mayor Tracey Bailey is eager to see the procurement go out to service agencies that will be able to fulfill the task of getting the outlined goals accomplished.

  The report, she added, did all of the heavy-lifting. It is now up to the organizations to carry out the goals.

  She asked about timelines.

  It is hoped to release the RFP in the summer, she was told.

  “Poverty is a complex issue. It will take all of us working together to find meaningful solutions,” County CAO Sandra Zwiers said, adding County Administration is hoping this renewed strategy will move the needle in a meaningful way.

  “We are excited to see the implementation of this new strategy,” she added.

  In her Report to Council on the matter, the City of Windsor, as the County’s regional service provider, administers the P2P program. In 2024, the County of Essex is contributing around $670,000 and the City is contributing around $1,522,000 to this program.

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