/MH council approves safety and well-being plan, with concerns

MH council approves safety and well-being plan, with concerns

By Nick Bernard

Following an unveiling at Haliburton County council last month, a draft of the county-led community safety and well-being plan (CSWB) has made its way to Minden Hills. 

Michael Rutter, chief administrative officer for the County of Haliburton, presented the plan to Minden’s council at their meeting, held virtually on Feb. 8. 

The purpose of this presentation was to get approval from Minden Hills for the plan and detachment board, as outlined in the CSWB plan. The plan requires approval and endorsement from all municipalities within Haliburton County.

Council voted to approve the plan and the requirements it outlines, but not without some concern.

“I just see that we’ve got a lot of words here that are terrific from a consultant’s perspective and can sit on a shelf, and not really a lot of actions that are going to improve the health and well-being of the county,” Councillor Bob Carter said, expressing what he felt was “consultant speak” on the language of the plan.

Per the act, municipalities are required to form an OPP detachment committee, whose main function will be to oversee and advise local OPP detachments on their performance. The board will also report on police performance to municipalities and First Nations council bands on an annual basis. 

The seven-member board consists of mayors of each local municipality, county warden Liz Danielsen, one community representative as appointed by county council, and one provincial appointee.

“I support this, except for the governance,” Councillor Pam Sayne said of the make-up of the plan’s detachment board. “I think it’s just too top-heavy with having four mayors in those positions, I think a paramedic should be there, and I think there should be at least two people represented from the community service organizations.”

An advisory committee is also required, responsible for leading community engagement on, and monitoring and evaluating, the plan. Rutter reported that the advisory committee consists of representatives from local organizations like Haliburton Highlands Health Services, Point in Time, Canadian Mental Health Association, and local health units. 

Work for the plan began in 2021, following the passing of the province’s Community Safety and Policing Act. The act mandates all municipalities in the province to create a CSWB plan, with equitable policing serving as a main principle of the act.

Haliburton County’s version of the plan will be adopted by all municipalities within the county, Minden included, and administered by the county itself. 

According to the county’s website, the plan’s goal is to “achieve sustainable communities where everyone is safe, has a sense of belonging, opportunities to participate, and where individuals and families are able to meet their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income, and social and cultural expression.”

“We want to get away from incident response to risk intervention, then proactively reducing those identified risks, and then addressing the underlying causes of social issues,” Rutter said. “It’s our hope that the plan will result in enhanced communication and collaboration between agencies and organizations.”

A report presented to county council in January stated, “between 2011 and 2016, the county experienced a population growth rate of 5.9 per cent, a rate above the provincial average of 4.6 per cent.” 

Between 2018 and 2020, violation against person crimes decreased by seven per cent from 150 to 140; whereas violation of property crimes increased by 11 per cent from 270 to 303 incidents. From 2017-2020 there was a slight uptick in 911 calls related to social disorder (e.g., domestic disputes, unwanted persons, keep the peace, and trespassing). There was a single reported hate crime in the county in 2020.”

Rutter’s full report to Minden council, along with a presentation on the CSWB plan, is available to view on the Minden Hills website at https://mindenhills.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=4844.

With files from the Minden Times