Farmers should be part of safety plan conversations

Community Safety and Well Being Plans deadline is Jan 1, 2021 By Valerie MacDonald

The Community Safety and Well Being Plans are different for every region and Ontario Federation of Agriculture President Keith Currie encourages individual county agriculture federations to be part of those conversations creating them

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By January, 2021 every community in Ontario is to have its own Community Safety and Well Being plan as required by the amended Police Services Act. Most are still on that journey to meet this provincial government mandate.

While the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is not directly involved because the needs of each region of the province is different, its president, Keith Currie, is encouraging individual member agriculture federations to be “engaged in those conversations.”

Northumberland County started down that road this past April when its council members endorsed an approach where the County’s Social Services department would take the lead and all seven member municipalities would participate.

“Planning for Community Safety and Well-being requires taking an integrated approach to service delivery by working across a wide range of sectors, agencies and organizations (including, but not limited to, local government, police services, health/mental health, education, social services, and community and custodial services for children and youth),” states a recent Northumberland County staff report about the on-going process.

“The plan requires developing and implementing evidence-based strategies and programs to address local priorities (i.e., risk factors, vulnerable groups, and protective factors) related to crime and complex social issues on a sustainable basis.”

Consultations began early this year but to date they have not included the farming community. The County’s communication’s director, Kate Campbell, explains why to Ontario Farmer.

“The provincial framework sets out the strategic partners that must be engaged in this effort, such as health, education, municipalities, justice, youth services etc. The agriculture community is not specifically identified, however all members of the community will be invited to provide feedback through the consultation process, and should the need for any specific information arise out of the planning and consultation processes, the Advisory Board (to be sent up by March) would further reach out to community resources such as the Northumberland County Agriculture Advisory Council and the Food Policy Council.”

Farmers should be part of discussions to create Community Safety and Well Being plans says, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini, who represents an area of Ontario where the agriculture industry is considered a key sector.

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini says that agriculture is a top sector in his ridings and that “farmers should be part of that” and said he would make his views known.

Huron County is also undertaking an on-line survey to create its own Community Safety and Well-Being Plan and is seeking information from its residents about key concerns it has about safety, health and well-being (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HuronCountyCSWBSurvey).

It states, in part, that “the survey includes questions about your day-to-day life, health, education, employment, safety, leisure, and recreation experiences, as well as what you think about living, working, and playing in your community. By sharing your experiences and what matters to you, you help to shape life in your community, determine key priorities, and indicate where you think change is needed the most.”

One of the questions is about “the food eaten in your household in the past 12 months” while another is about “the efforts being made to preserve the natural environment in your community.” Still other questions range from happiness and financial circumstance, to crime-related issues.

Like Huron County’s survey, Durham Region is developing its own plan and survey having hired a consultant “to meet the legislated deadline of Jan. 1, 2021,” its website states, and promising “future consultation opportunities.”

To see a completed plan, Halton Region has posted its own on this website (https://www.halton.ca/getmedia/8b348f60-7d3a-4e85-b503-d8166408fd6d/SCS-Community_Safety_Well_Being_report.pdf.aspx) and it includes a section entitled preliminary issues for attention.

Municipalities like Lanark County and Smiths Falls were pilot projects and its plan was adopted in August, 2018.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ Public Safety Division is overseeing the process.

In August, 2018 a backgrounder from the Association of the Municipalities of Ontario stated that “specifically regarding Community Safety and Well-Being Plans, a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not recognize the capacity limitations of smaller municipalities.

“Asking the smallest municipal government to assume the same responsibilities as the largest municipal government is not practical. Scaling the development of Community Safety and Well-Being plans based on community size is an approach that has merit.A Similarly, ensuring every municipal government has a voice on an OPP Detachment Board is an important element of consolidating boards in a successful way.”

When asked for an update, Allan Thompson, Chair of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA), provided this statement to Ontario Farmer.

“Municipalities appreciate the intent of community safety and well-being plans. Many municipal governments have had their own versions for some time. Municipal leaders always urge the Ontario government to be careful when it creates mandatory process, services or responsibilities. All municipalities are different, and some municipal governments are very small.

“We always stress that capacity varies. When the Ontario government makes changes, they need to be practical and affordable, to make sure that municipal governments can deliver services and meet expectations.

“Municipal governments will meet these deadlines. However, it will be easy for some, and harder for others.”

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