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Region looking to improve safety and well-being

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Work is underway at the region to complete a provincially-mandated community safety and well-being plan.

Dr. Hugh Drouin, commissioner of social services, and Brian Bridgeman, the commissioner of planning and economic development, are guiding the process of putting together the plan, with CAO Elaine Baxter-Trahair and Durham Police Chief Paul Martin acting as the executive sponsors.

It may also be recommended at a later date that two members of regional council be appointed in order to provide support and bring public leadership to the team.

“A staff project team will act as the conduit for the transfer of information from the working groups to the steering committee,” reads a staff report on the plan.

According to the report, the project team will act in an advisory role to the steering committee.

The first task of the project team will be to outline their roles and responsibilities as well as those of the steering committee, and the working groups.

They will also work on the project’s scope and timeline, and determine which community partners should be involved.

“The goal of a community safety and well-being plan is to achieve the ideal state of a sustainable community, where everyone has a sense of safety, 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,” reads the report given to council.

At a minimum, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services requires the CSWP to include local priority risk factors which have been identified based on community consultations and multiple sources of data.

These include Statistics Canada, and other local sector-specific data, such as Durham’s Health Neighbourhoods reports.

It will also need evidence-based programs and strategies which address the priority risk factors, and measurable outcomes with associated performance measures to ensure the strategies are effective, and there are positive outcomes.

According to the report, Durham Police has identified the three highest risk factors regarding community safety and well-being in the region.

These include mental health and cognitive function, anti-social and non-criminal problematic behaviour, and substance abuse and addiction.

The report also notes lower-tier municipalities will be engaged throughout the process, and all lower-tier CAOs are in agreement with the region taking the lead on the initiative.

The steering committee will be responsible with making decisions regarding the plan, and will provide progress reports to council through the Drouin and Bridgeman.