Duplication concerns raised over safe communities plan

Some members of Mapleton council expressed concern about potential duplication of efforts after hearing a presentation from Safe Communities Wellington County (SCWC) at the March 26 meeting.

County councillor Gary Williamson, co-chairman of SCWC, updated council on local activities, as well as the committee’s bid to attain a national designation under Parachute – the umbrella organization for Safe Communities Canada. The local committee is hoping to become the first county to be recognized nationally under the Safe Communities banner.

Williamson pointed out SCWC’s focus is on injury-prevention, not crime prevention. He noted Wellington County’s recent designation as the safest community in Canada by MacLean’s Magazine was based on crime statistics.

“We’re about injury prevention and trying to reduce injuries in Wellington County,” he stated, noting that involves coordinating the efforts of a number of local and county organizations.

“Part of the goal of Safe Communities Wellington County is to try and bring those groups together and try to be more effective about working together for the same cause,” said Williamson. “It’s not that we want to change what these organizations are doing; it’s simply to make them aware of what the other groups are doing.”

Mapleton Fire Chief Rick Richardson advised council the local Community Oriented Policing (COPS) committee has already adopted the “Safe Communities” identity.

 “We changed our name to Safe Communities two years ago,” explained Richardson, pointing out the local group has since hosted information days on bullying, internet safety and drug awareness.

“We’re not looking to re-invent the wheel or go out there and be Big Brother … we’re just looking to work together and see what we can do,” said Williamson.

Councillor Neil Driscoll asked Williamson how SCWC ties in with the Wellington County Home and Farm Safety Association.

Willaimson explained SCWC will probably have a booth at future Farm Safety Day events to promote awareness.

Councillor Mike Downey said the farm safety association hasn’t had any contact with the safe communities group, and questioned the need for a coordinating body.

“I think it’s a lot of duplication of what we already have. Farm safety have been working on these things for 35 years and we’ve had no discussion on this (the SCWC movement),” he stated. “It’s just stacking of resources and expenses. That’s my take on it.”

Mayor Bruce Whale suggested it would be a good idea for  SCWC to make a presentation to the county farm safety group.

“There may be some things you can work together on.”

Driscoll noted that Wellington North, which Williamson represents at county council, “doesn’t take part in the farm and home safety association so they are a little out of touch, and now we hear this county committee is doing the same thing.”

However Richardson said he felt there is considerable opportunity for “sharing resources” through the county organization.

Downey wondered if SCWC would be taking an active role in promoting safety, or a passive approach.

“Are they going to be driving the educational component?  That’s what it’s all about. Have they got people going out and doing things, or is it all going to be about glossy folders?

Whale suggested approaching the topic “from both ends.” He suggested Downey discuss the committee’s proposals with the local Farm safety Association, while Richardson could discuss them with the Mapleton community safety group.