Safety group still rating well
By Duane Hicks, Fort Frances Times Ltd.
Safe Communities Rainy River District continues to rate very well among other communities across Canada.
The recent Safe Communities 2013 Report from new umbrella organization, “Parachute to Safety,” has replaced the National Report Card from Safe Communities Canada, which SCRRD had aced for the past six-straight years.
While this means the grading system in the latter has been replaced with a more streamlined method of reporting success, the new report shows the district continues to deserve its “Safe Communities” designation.
“I am pleased with the report,” said SCRRD chair Linda Plumridge.
“It’s nice to say we got a perfect score [as with the former version] but the new format does provide SCRRD with information which is very useful,” she noted.
“They’ve put demographics in there and one of things they really bring home is that we’re an aging community,” Plumridge added.
Rainy River District differs from the national average with respect to adults, seniors, and children—having a higher percentage of adults (51 percent versus 42 percent) and seniors (20 percent compared to 11 percent), and fewer young children aged four and under (five percent versus 14 percent).
Youth aged 15-24 and school-age children (age five-12) account for only a slightly smaller share of the population here compared to the national average.
Fortunately, groups such as Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) and the Assisted Living Action Group (A.L.A.G.) have been doing a great job looking after the needs of seniors, said Plumridge.
She also is in the process of getting information from a community in southern Ontario that just created programs on falls and seniors’ safety, which she hopes to pass along to another local partner, the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program, which again is putting out a seniors’ calendar this fall.
That said, many programs, such as the new “Kiss ’N Ride,” make children a number-one safety priority.
Looking at the numbers, SCRRD continues to be an active network for many district partners, addressing priorities such as traffic safety in school zones, rail safety, bike safety, seniors’ safety, children’s safety, substance abuse prevention, and violence prevention.
On average, “Safe Communities” across Canada have 12 partners. In 2012-13, the SCRRD reported having more than 30 community partners, through which more than 25 community safety programs are offered.
Driven entirely by its volunteers, the SCRRD reported having 160 volunteers in 2012-13, who contributed an estimated 1,500 hours.
Nationally, “Safe Communities” in Canada reported a total of 1,561 volunteers in 2012-13, with an average of 40 volunteers for each one.
Further, a total of 36,559 volunteer hours were reported by all “Safe Communities” in the past year, with an average of 937 hours per community.
SCRRD described the overall level of engagement in the community as “high.” And in terms of participation in community events, it estimated that roughly 11,000 citizens were actively involved in their “Safe Community” programs or projects.
Nationally, an average of 3,770 citizens per community participated in “Safe Communities” programs or events during the past year.
SCRRD’s annual operating budget was more than $25,000, similar to 28 percent of the other “Safe Communities” in Canada. The remaining balance of communities had smaller budgets.
This budget is comprised of government grants (65 percent), municipalities (25 percent), community grants (five percent), and donations (five percent).
“We’re really fortunate,” said Plumridge.
“We’ve got great support from all the municipalities, we’ve got great support from all of the partners that are involved, the people who have been board members who put in a lot of time and effort to do that,” she stressed.
While SCRRD has continued to work diligently, Plumridge noted the past year has been one of transition.
Safe Communities Canada amalgamated with several other organizations under the umbrella of “Parachute to Safety.”
In fact, Plumridge will be heading to a Northern Ontario “Safe Communities” conference in Sault Ste. Marie on Oct. 23 to get more information on where Safe Communities Canada is at and how “Parachute can help.”
It also provides a good opportunity to network with other “Safe Communities.”
“I would love to come back from this ‘Parachute’ meeting on Oct. 23 with new ideas,” Plumridge enthused.
SCRRD then will hold its annual general meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19 at noon in the boardroom at La Verendrye Hospital here.
“We would love to see more people come to the table,” Plumridge said.
“The safety coalition group had such a strong presence for a long time, and people have retired and changed jobs,” she noted.
“We would to bring new people to the table with their enthusiasm.
“Opportunities are out there,” she added.
For more information on the SCRRD, contact Plumridge via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org