New online safety survey seeks to gauge impact of pandemic

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How safe do you feel walking alone in your neighbourhood after dark?

That’s one of the questions asked in an online survey seeking to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on Grey-Bruce residents’ perceptions of safety and well-being.

The survey, which can be accessed by visiting the Bruce and Grey Community Safety and Well-Being Plan website (cswbp-brucegrey.ca), closes May 16.

The Bruce and Grey Community Safety and Well-Being Advisory Committee first surveyed residents early in 2020. After analyzing the data, the committee created a safety and well-being plan approved by both county councils.

“We are taking a collaborative approach to creating safer communities. Our approved plan allows us to leverage resources, implement priority actions, and address emerging issues through further engagement with our residents and key partners. We look forward to continue building safe and healthy communities with all who call our region home,” said Bruce County Warden Janice Jackson.

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The Bruce and Grey CSWBP identified five priority areas of risk: addiction and substance use, mental health, crime prevention, housing and homelessness, and poverty and income.

Addiction and substance abuse ranked as the highest concern in the first Bruce and Grey CSWBP survey by both counties and 13 of the 16 lower-tier municipalities.

However, that data was collected pre-pandemic, so the committee is launching a second community engagement survey to evaluate any shifts in community perspectives.

“This is a good time to connect with residents and gauge perceptions regarding community safety and well-being. Using a regional lens, it will be interesting to learn from the data and understand how the pandemic has impacted our communities. Having the baseline from a year ago will help identify who has been most impacted so we can focus our efforts on strategies to meet people where they are at,” said Grey County Warden Selwyn Hicks.

The advisory committee is composed of Bruce and Grey counties, 16 lower tier municipalities, eight police services, 14 police service boards, three boards of education, and more than 30 health and social service agencies and community committees.

New provincial Police Services Act amendments required every municipal council to prepare and adopt a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan by Jan. 1, 2021.

Plans must identify risk factors, including systemic discrimination and other social factors which contribute to crime, victimization, addiction, drug overdose and suicide; identify strategies to reduce those risks, and set measurable outcomes.

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In the coming months, once the local issues have been identified and accessed, the Bruce and Grey CWBSP advisory committee will work with action tables “to ensure that targeted engagement occurs both geographically and with residents impacted by the specific areas of risk,” a news release said.

“The goal of CSWBP is to achieve sustainable communities where everyone is safe, has a sense of belonging and opportunities to participate, and where individuals and families can meet their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income and social and cultural expression. The success of society is linked to the well-being of each and every individual and integral to this success is cross-sector service coordination,” a news release said.

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