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Safe community committee makes presentation to Wellington North council

by Kris Svela

KENILWORTH

Wellington North council got it’s first official look at safe community committee efforts taking place in Wellington County.

Committee co-chairman and Ward 3 county councillor Gary Williamson made a presentation to council at its Feb. 11 meeting and was joined by Bob and Aletha McArthur of the newly-formed Mount Forest safe community committee.

Williamson has been making presentations to councils across the county as the county organization works at being recognized as a member of Safe Communities Canada.

“Injuries are predictable and preventable.” Williamson said of the focus of county and local committees.

Late last year the county committee hosted a session to identify preventable accidents and set them on a priority list.  The exercise included students and representatives from the Upper Grand District School Board, Wellington County Catholic School Board, emergency responders, Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health unit, county fire departments, Wellington County OPP, Guelph Police Services, municipal COPs and safe community groups, county and municipal politicians and staff, Cowan Insurance Company, McDonalds restaurants and Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece.

The exercise reached consensus on priority areas the committee will focus on in its goal to prevent accidents and fatalities and become designated as a national safe community. Williamson told council Monday evening the priorities outlined by the county committee may not be the same priorities found at the local level. However, he suggested, municipal committees might find similar priorities and work together to solve them.

Over 60 municipalities in Canada have received the designation and, if successful, Wellington County will be the first county designated, he told council during his presentation.

The county priority exercise was based on the most recent accident data provided by the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health unit for 2005–2009. The statistics dealt with incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, on and off road motor vehicle accidents, agriculture and machinery accidents, sports and recreation accidents, falls, accidental poisonings and intentional self harm.

The health unit statistics included deaths in each category, potential years of life lost (based on the age of the victim subtracted from the average lifespan of 75 years), emergency department visits, hospitalization and length of time spent in a hospital.

Ranked as a top priority by the county group was falls. During the four-year period statistics show falls resulted in 60 fatalities, 14,869 emergency department calls and 1,821 hospitalizations with 12,679 days spent in hospital.

Motor vehicle accidents were ranked second by the group. During the time frame accidents resulted in 39 fatalities, 3,419 emergency department responses and 336 hospitalizations resulting in 2,212 days in hospital.

Intentional self harm, including attempted suicides,  was chosen as the third priority for the committee, with 27 fatalities during the four-year period, which resulted in 612 emergency department responses, 248 hospitalizations and 663 days spent in hospital.

Williamson expects the three top choices will be dealt with by the county committee.

The Mount Forest committee is in the process of establishing its own priority list and is slated to meet Feb. 21 at 7:30pm. The meeting will be held at the family centre at the corner of Elgin and Birmingham streets.

Mayor Ray Tout has been a stronger supporter of the committee and its work.

“I think it’s a huge benefit not only to Wellington North, but all communities,” he said.

Vol 46 Issue 07

February 15, 2013

ReliableFord

Cherry Hill

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