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City poised to hire manager to steer Hamilton safety and well-being plan
June 18, 2021

A plan to make Hamilton a safer, healthier and more inclusive place for all will only bear fruit if supported by sustained funding and human resources.

This is the message from members of a committee that spent months gathering public feedback to create a community safety and well-being plan for Hamilton.

On Thursday, councillors backed a recommendation to allocate $125,000 to hire a full-time senior project manager to carry forward the provincially mandated plan to tackle major societal concerns.

The project manager, as well as resources from organizations and institutions, are needed to make the plan “come to life” and “really make a dent,” Grace Mater, a director in the city’s healthy and safe communities department, told councillors.

“We also know that this is just the start of the journey.”

Those investments and funds should be “embedded into this plan,” Kojo Damptey, executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), told the community and emergency services committee.

HCCI is one several organizations that formed the advisory committee tasked with creating the 40-page blueprint.

Through community feedback, the committee narrowed down its local priorities to violence, mental health and stigma, substance use, housing and homelessness, access to income, and hate incidents.

“Hate has been an issue in here in Hamilton for a number of years,” Damptey said.

But once hate incidents happen, “we’ve already failed,” he said, noting the importance of “proactive prevention.”

One example is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “call to action” that urges government to educate public servants about the history of Indigenous people in Canada, including residential schools, Damptey noted.

The advisory committee also appreciates “safety is not the same for everybody,” said Pat Mandy, a member of the police service board. Some people feel secure with police at events, Mandy said. “Others feel unsafe and sometimes threatened.”

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The plan is a “great opportunity” to build on the significant efforts community groups have already made to address the priorities in a “very co-ordinated way,” said Kim Ciavarella, executive director of Banyan Community Services.

Local school boards, hospitals, post-secondary institutions and smaller organizations, such as the Coalition of Indigenous Leadership (CHIL) and the Woman Abuse Working Group, are also on the advisory committee.