Bruce County endorses Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

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BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County has endorsed the new Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWBP), which sets out to achieve sustainable communities and crime reduction across the region.

Sarah Cowley, CSWBP co-ordinator, addressed county council Nov. 5 with details of the plan.

It involves 16 lower-tier municipalities and the two counties.

She explained the goal is to “shift resources upstream” to social development, from incident response.

Local action teams will begin tackling priority areas like addiction and substance use, mental health, crime prevention, housing and homelessness, and poverty and income.

A community survey was done, and received almost 2,000 responses, described by Cowley as “huge,” especially in comparison with larger municipalities such as Halton, that received fewer responses.

She noted that locally, drinking and opioid use is increasing. Students are reporting more mental health distress, resulting in calls to EMS, police and 211. Locally, assaults are higher than the Ontario rate. And a substantial percentage of children are living in poverty.

The idea is to reduce crime across the region by dealing with its causes.

County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, said she was skeptical at first, but the committee has done “excellent research … and made the needs concrete.

“It’s an important initiative,” she said.

The committee consists of a wide range of police, education and social services representatives – 72 in all.

Additional information about the plan is available at cswbp-brucegrey.ca.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times