County becomes “˜Safe Community”™ June 20

It’s all but official; Wellington County will be receiving its national Safe Community designation in June, county council was told at its meeting on May 23.

Councillor Gary Williamson, who is co-chairman of the Safe Communities Wellington County committee along with OPP Staff Sergeant  Jack Hunjan, said the committee received word the county will receive the designation at a ceremony planned for June 20 at 1:30 pm at the Sports complex in Mount Forest.

Actress and singer Dinah Christie, who lives just outside of Mount Forest, will be the master of ceremonies.

“Eighteen months ago, county OPP brought forward the idea of becoming a safe community,” Williamson told councillors.

A leadership group was formed shortly after the request, bringing together representatives from the OPP, social services, ministry of labour, health care, students, school boards, municipal COPS committees, private business and politicians from the county and municipal levels.

The intent was to work toward getting the county designation from Safe Communities Canada under the guidance of Parachute an amalgamation of Canada’s leading injury prevention organizations.

The committee’s policy is “to support the establishment and implementation of a coordinated approach to addressing safety issues in the County of Wellington through inter-agency and local community group awareness, communication, cooperation and action.”

The committee hosted a priority exercise in late 2012 to determine what areas it would concentrate on. Based on statistics provided by the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health unit, the priority group narrowed down its focus to injuries and deaths related to falls, motor vehicle accidents on and off road, intentional self harm and Sports and recreation.

“We believe that injuries are predictable and preventable,” Williamson said. “Our mission is to make Wellington County a safer place to live, work and play.”

The county committee has made presentations to all lower-tier councils on the work it plans and has talked with local safe community committees, which includes a committee recently formed in Wellington North.

Puslinch councillor Dennis Lever asked what the committee plans after receiving the official designation.

“We’re going to continue to talk to local committees to determine what their plan is,” Williamson said. “We’re an umbrella organization.”

He added the committee will assist local committees with injury-related issues that apply to their communities.

The county committee has also had talks with the county roads committee about putting up signs in a bid to prevent accidents.

Statistics from 2004 show Ontario lost about $6.8 billion in lost productivity due to accidents.