Do you have concerns about community safety? Have you been a victim of crime? Does the housing shortage affect your well-being? Larrisa Yantha is busy compiling responses from a community survey to help develop the mandated West Nipissing Community Safety & Well-being Plan, and she wants to get as much input as she can from area citizens. The survey has been well advertised and is available digitally until December 17th on the municipal website, with print copies available at all area libraries. This plan was put on hold during the COVID interruptions, but is now back on track.
The municipality is required to come up with a plan that will improve service delivery in all sectors, a plan which was initially motivated by the need to respond appropriately to people in mental health crisis through collaboration between policing and other social services, but which has gone much further since then. Yantha was hired by the municipality as a Special Projects coordinator in September, with the main priority being the Community Safety & Well-being Plan (CSWP). “Municipalities are required to have this plan, in partnership with… the Police Services Board, health, education, youth services, social services. The whole goal is to focus on prevention and social development to reduce identified community risks leading to crime and lack of safety,” she said.
That’s the safety portion, safety being the word which is cut and dried and easy to appreciate for most people. The ‘well-being’ part takes more imagination. “With the word ‘well-being’, you think about mental well-being, physical well-being, spiritual well-being … all these themes come together, and depending on the services community members have access to, whether they feel they belong in a community, whether they have access to quality housing and education… Often those are the preventative measures that can influence whether someone gets involved with crime – which brings us back to the safety aspect… The province wants us to consider all these different themes and the survey is one way we are looking for that feedback.”
Back in March of 2020, there was a roundtable discussion where community leaders in various fields talked about community risk factors, were introduced to the project, and struck an advisory committee. A week later, COVID regulations and lockdown put the endeavour on pause. The advisory committee, consisting of police, Au Chateau, the Community Health Centre, social services board, Literacy Alliance, Horizon Centre, school boards, and others, need to look at the collected data and determine how to proceed.