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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex County Council notes - Wednesday, November 17

by Sylene Argent

Community Safety and Well-Being Plan approve at County-level

Members of Essex County Council approved the final report for the Windsor Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for submission to the Solicitor General, and voted in favour of Essex County Council championing the plan and recognizing the Plan’s implementation necessitates active engagement and meaningful participation of key sectors, residents, and communities across the Region.

Leading up to the decision made on Wednesday evening, all regional municipalities passed a motion authorizing Essex County Council to approve the Plan and any subsequent reports on their behalf.

Leonardo Gil, Project Manager for the Windsor Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, summarized the final report for County Council, which was completed with StrategyCorp.

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 goal behind the Windsor-Essex Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is to re-think traditional crime-centric safety interventions, Gil said, “by moving toward collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches that tend to emphasize up-stream or preventative activities.”    

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.

As part of the legislation, the objectives were to identify party risk factors, strategies to reduce risks, and set measurable outcomes for success. To do so, the local approach developed six primary inputs.

“This mix-methods approach was really used to ensure the prioritization of risk and protective factors in our region was formed by a variety of stakeholders and data,” he said.

The Plan, Gil added, narrows down top priorities for each municipality, the Region, and to cluster the information under the four areas of focus: good governance and data, engaged and safe communities, mental health and substance-use supports, and financial security and economic equity.

Gil added through putting the Plan together, the importance was learned that access to affordable housing was key, as well as trying to keep people living and working in their communities. In addition, the need to improve system navigation and awareness for services available for mental health and substance supports was also identified.

Gil noted the Monday prior, the finalized Plan was presented to Windsor City Council, and it was endorsed.

From here, the Plan will be forwarded to the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

He thanked each regional Council for its commitment to the project, in addition to those who worked on the plan, including residents who voiced their opinions and concerns.

“Truly, I feel this was a community-driven effort, and I believe it is reflected in the approach we took, as well as the results of the Plan,” Gil said.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche asked how the success of the plan can be measured.

Gil responded the measurements will be assessed on two fronts; one being completion of the metrics and milestones detailed in the Report, the other is using population data and indicators – across multiple sectors – to ensure there is an approach to tracking and knowing the results from the data experts.

Mary Birch, Director of Council and Community Services/Clerk, said each the City of Windsor and County of Essex contributed $200,000 to the Plan. As of the end of September, $261,000 had been spent. As a result, there are sufficient funds to carry the implementation of the Plan to 2022, without asking for additional funds in next year’s County of Essex Budget.

If something unexpected comes up, staff will approach County Council about additional funds, if needed.


2020 Windsor Essex Housing and Homelessness Master Plan Annual Report

Kelly Goz, Coordinator of Social Housing Administration and Development, and Diane Wilson, Coordinator of Housing Administration and Development, made a presentation to County Council regarding the 2020 Windsor Essex Housing and Homelessness Master Plan Annual Report.

  Goz noted the presentation reflects the highlights achieved under the seven goals, corresponding strategies, and targets made last year. The pandemic, she added, required many adjustments to operations, supports and programs, however, funding programs made available from higher-levels of government presented unexpected opportunities to increase partnerships and advance strategies of the Plan.

“Our community vision is that Windsor-Essex is an inclusive community, where everyone has a safe, affordable, accessible, and quality home; and everyone lives where they can actively participate,” Goz said.

  There are seven goals in the Housing and Homelessness Master Plan, as well as strategies and targets to achieve and measure goals, Goz explained.

  There are 50 strategies outlined in the Plan, of which 42 are either in progress or ongoing, as of the end of 2020.

  Goz detailed the achievements of 2020 for County Council.

  Wilson noted in 2020, the number of households experiencing chronic or long-term homelessness decreased four percent to 327, from 2019.

  Goz noted Windsor-Essex vacancy rates have dropped from a high of 20 percent some years ago, to 3.6 percent in 2020, with average market rents increasing significantly over the past number of years.

“As a community, we continue to advocate and leverage diverse funding sources and collaborative opportunities to support the needs of youths. As a result, our community added two housing first for youth staff throughout the Windsor-Essex Housing Connections Program. Through the program, an additional 18 youth were supported in 2020 to gain access to permanent housing,” she said.

This represents a decrease of 31 percent, Goz said, primarily due to COVID.

When it comes to housing and homeless funding, the majority of its funding comes from the Province of Ontario through the Community Homeless and Prevention Initiative at over $10.7M. Funds also come from the Federal Reaching Home Funding in around $706,000. In addition to just over $1M from the City and $448,000 from the County of Essex, annually.

  In addition, housing operating funding comes from provincial and federal governments at around $20M, other revenues bring in around $315,000, the City cost-share is over $18M, while the County’s is just over $10M.  

  County Council received the report.

Up to $1,160,039 for land acquisition, servicing costs for affordable housing

development in Essex approved

Warden Gary McNamara noted a closed meeting was held prior to the regular Essex County Council meeting last Wednesday.

  During the closed session, he said County Council administration provided Council members with information about an opportunity to make an investment for land acquisition and servicing cost for an affordable housing development.

  During the regular meeting, Essex County Council moved to received the request from the City of Windsor and further approved an investment to an upper limit of $1,160,039 for land acquisition and servicing costs contributable to an affordable housing development in the Town of Essex, subject to the terms of the final agreement being acceptable to the County of Essex.

  The funding will come from the County’s Rate Stabilization Reserve.

  County Administration was also directed to develop an agreement, setting out the terms and conditions for the investment for this affordable housing development, with the County of Essex to the City of Windsor and the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation, agreeable to the County solicitor and CAO.   


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