'A game changer': Regina city council approves Community Safety and Wellbeing plan to tackle issues of concern
A Regina City Council meeting on February 24, 2021. (Gareth Dillistone / CTV Regina)
Regina’s long-talked about Community Safety and Wellbeing (CSWB) Plan has finally been approved.
The plan focuses on addressing six key areas of concern: domestic and intimate partner violence, food insecurity, problematic substance use, racism and discrimination, safety, and education on Regina’s services and programs.
“This was a long time in the making,” said councillor Andrew Stevens.
The CSWB was first discussed in 2019.
Stevens calls it a “game changer” when it comes to dealing with the six identified issues in the long-term, adding it sets the city up for better strategic collaboration with community organizations and different levels of government.
On Wednesday, council approved the city administration’s recommendations, which will give $800,000 in annual funding to create an “external support structure” as well as one-time funding of $75,000 to develop a comprehensive overdose prevention strategy.
According to Mayor Sandra Masters, a board of directors would run the external organization.
“Having an external board of directors who overlooks the operations is incredibly important,” Masters said.
“It creates the space and independence that they are looking for.”
City administration is now tasked with looking into the governance model for the external organization.
Masters says the next step is to begin gathering members from community organizations. From there, they will create “tables” to help address each of the six issues laid out in the plan.
“Part of it is about capacity, but a big part of it is about expertise,” said Masters, adding administration is planning special summits to meet with different stakeholders.
“It’s about getting in front of folks, having the conversation and understanding challenges from both directions.”
Masters says data collection and evidence will play a big role in the CSWB plan, as the organization looks to address key issues. She says stakeholders will be able to use data to measure how well strategies work.
“I come back to data and evidence in terms of how can we be better at coordinating and facilitating the collection of data, the understanding of needs and getting that communication back into the province and the federal government.”
Council has the CSWB plan budgeted for about $1.35 billion in the 2022 budget.
CITY APPROVES FUNDING FOR NEW YWCA CENTRE
Council approved up to $4 million in funding for YWCA Regina through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The funding will go toward constructing a healing space and ceremonial lodge as part of the YWCA’s new Centre for Women and Families.
Masters says this project directly falls in line with the city’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan.
“Talk about walking the walk,” Masters said.
“The Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan clearly highlights domestic violence as being an issue, so investing in that program becomes pretty simple.”
The YWCA currently has 26 beds available for women and children experiencing homelessness. There are an additional 14 emergency beds for those fleeing domestic violence situations.
The new centre will maintain those existing spaces while adding another 14 affordable housing units to the new building.
The total capital cost for the new centre is $54 million dollars. The YWCA says it has secured $21 million, or 39 per cent, of the total costs so far.