Manitoulin municipalities agree on need to work together on safety

MINDEMOYA – Manitoulin municipalities agree they will need to work together on community safety and well-being planning, instead of through individual municipalities.

“We (Central Manitoulin) had a meeting last night on the new legislative requirements related to mandating community safety and well-being planning,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin during a Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) meeting last week. “No one at the meeting seemed to know much about this, except that it has been on the go for the last couple of years.”

“There were a couple of test municipalities this was run through, one being Bancroft,” said Mayor Stephens; “when I was reading their summary it seemed to deal with strategic planning (in the municipality).”

The new legislative requirements related to mandating community safety and well-being planning  involve 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 to proactively develop and implement evidence-based strategies and programs to address local priorities (risk factors, vulnerable groups, protective factors) related to crime and complex social issues on a sustainable basis, Mayor Stephens relayed in information he had received from the province.

“The goal of CSWB planning is to achieve the ideal state of a sustainable community where everyone is safe, has a sense of belonging, access to services and where individuals and families are able to meet their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income and social and cultural expression,” read Mayor Stephens.

“This is all very good and nice, but one note in the information I have is that this a new legislative requirement as of January 1,” said Mayor Stephens. “I had never heard anything about it previously.”

However, Ken Noland, chair of the MMA pointed out, “as municipalities, we have two years to complete this. I think we need to do this as an Island; it would be too much for each municipality to do this on their own.”

“I agree,” stated Mayor Stephens.

Al MacNevin, mayor of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) told the meeting that “DSB (District Services Board) is offering a template for this strategic planning. They are more involved in the components of the plan and they made a proposal to our staff on this to help out. Each municipality has to make up their mind on how to deal with it, but DSB will have representation on the committee that would  be looking at this anyway. I’m going to see what they are proposing (and whether they would take the lead on the project for the Island). “Otherwise each community would have to carry out their own plan.”  He indicated he could be in touch with a representative of DSB and see if they would meet with the Island municipalities and the MMA members said they are in favour of this. 

“There is a lot of work that will have to go into the planning,” said Mayor MacNevin.

“It seems to be another thing that may be good for Toronto, but for rural Ontario it may not make a lot of sense,” added Reeve Noland.  

“Let’s start with contacting the DSB and work from there,” added Mayor Stephens.