A project through the Measuring Municipal Inclusion Grant (MMIG) is ongoing in Jasper. Lisa Riddell, community development manager, gave council an update about details at their committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 9.
The MMIG is one of many grant-funded projects Community and Family Services (CFS) has implemented over the last seven years, with a goal to engage community members in creating conditions in Jasper where individuals and families from all walks of life, backgrounds, abilities and orientations can achieve optimal well being, and contribute socially and economically to the community.
“This is a unique project in that even though CFS has undertaken a number of projects over the last seven years, focused on diversity and inclusion, this is the first that really looks inward, as a municipality, as an organization, and so it’s been really interesting and quite positive to work on,” Riddell said.
The intent of the three-phase project is to affect lasting change beyond the funding period, which was extended from Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021.
The AUMA provided $50,000 funding for the 28-month project, and it’s on track financially. So far, $15,178.62 has been spent on full-time equivalent time and $14,252 was spent on an accessibility audit on municipal facilities by Apex Access Consultants in November 2020. About $6,000 will be spent on training in the coming months.
Phase 1 of the project was engaging Council and administration in the project and having them respond to a survey. The 42 surveys completed were used as a basis for Phase 2, carrying out an action plan to focus on areas for improvement identified through the Phase 1 survey results.
The objectives included establishing an Internal Municipal Inclusion Committee, co-ordinating and offering training for elected officials, directors, management, front-line staff and committee members; to conduct an accessibility/inclusion audit on municipal facilities and draft a plan to improve five areas about signage.
As part of Phase 3, council members will be asked to fill out the same survey this coming November that they did in Phase 1. The results will be compared with results from the first survey and council will hear results from the project as a whole.
Projects funded in the past by the grant include The Diversity Project, the Diverse, Inclusive Together video and Welcoming and Inclusive Jasper web pages. Current projects are The Jasper Immigration Coalition, Newcomer Network and Cultural Kitchens Program.
Community development is reviewing Apex’s final report and identifying areas for improvement and bringing sections of the report to committee members for input. Five areas about signage are being identified and an action plan is being drafted.
Community development is compiling a set of draft documents and board recommendations and unless otherwise directed, council is scheduled to hear recommendations in September 2021, before the project finishes in December.
“The importance of inclusion is ever so necessary to be on every single table in our community,” said Councillor Jenna McGrath, who sits on the inclusion committee, as does Mayor Richard Ireland.
“It is incredibly important for our organization to be undertaking this work,” the mayor said, emphasizing the effectiveness of introspection as a way to move ahead personally and as an organization.
Ireland said individuals within the organization can take those skills outside to the broader community.
He also expressed gratitude for Greg Van Tighem, director of protective services. Van Tighem was scheduled to retire at the beginning of February but extended his term to accommodate the municipality while other matters are being worked out.
“I think he deserves a great deal of appreciation from council,” Ireland said.
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh