Sixth-straight perfect score for safety coalition
By Duane Hicks, Fort Frances Times Ltd.
Despite growing funding challenges, the district still is well-deserving of the title of a “safe community” after the Safe Communities Rainy River District (SCRRD) scored a perfect 20 out of 20 for the sixth-straight time on the National Report Card from Safe Communities Canada.
Rainy River District scored a five out of five in all four categories on the report card, which well were above the national averages of 4.5, 4.3, 3.5, and 3.8 in leadership, priority setting, sustainability, and community engagement, respectively.
The district also scored above average for organizations in the Ontario region.
The average scores for these were 4.6, 4.4, 3.7, and 3.9.
As well, Rainy River District scored five out of five in all six categories on a companion report card which measures indicators of international safe communities (as opposed to national ones).
These categories include collaborative infrastructure, long-term sustainable programs, programs for vulnerable populations, injury causes and frequency, evaluation process, and ongoing participation.
The local scores were well above the national averages of 3.2, 3.5., 2.9, 3.9, 3.7, and 3.4, respectively.
The perfect scores across the board also put the district well above organizations in the Ontario region that were evaluated using the same international indicators.
The average scores for Ontario organizations were 3.3, 3.4, 2.8, 3.9, 2.7, and 3.4.
The report indicated the local safety coalition is one of 12 Canadian Safe Communities to record a perfect 20/20 attribute score—up from eight last year.
SCRRD administrative co-ordinator Grace Silander said this is encouraging to see.
The report card also noted some of the SCRRD’s community strengths include:
•having a broad range of community partners;
•helping to ensure its future viability by adopting a terms of reference and a succession plan;
•completing an evaluation of its effectiveness “as an agent of change” in its community during the past year;
•undertaking a range of strategic initiatives to demonstrate its leadership in the field of injury prevention and safety promotion in Rainy River District;
•conducting a community-based, priority-setting exercise using data from credible sources during the past year, and involving community partners not sitting on the board to help identify priority populations;
•championing programs in the community that focus on child car seat safety, exercise for seniors, falls prevention in the workplace, and recreational helmet use for children/youth (a total of 75 people completed car seat checks, 200 citizens completed exercise programs for seniors, 1,000 citizens completed falls prevention workplace programs, and 200 children/youth exercised helmet use);
•securing funding from a variety of sources, expanding its reach and influence in the community, and “protecting itself from the consequences of reduction in single source financial support”;
•having 160 volunteers contributing 1,500 hours to its activities in the past year, and effectively using volunteers “to assist with administrative requirement, [demonstrating] a pragmatic approach to addressing organizational and administrative capacity”;
•offering support services to its volunteers;
•having 15,000 people participate in injury prevention and safety promotion programs it has developed or championed last year; and
•using various media sources to publicize injury prevention or safety awareness, reaching an estimated 68 percent of the community.
Still, Safe Communities Rainy River District will have a challenging year ahead of it, warned Silander, though she’s confident the group can score another perfect report card in 2013.
Silander said one change occurring is Safe Communities Canada is amalgamating with Safe Kids, “Think First,” and “Smart Risk” under the new title, “Parachute.”
“We don’t know on the forefront where it’s going to impact us,” she admitted. “We’re going to carry on as is.
“But what they’re thinking is by doing the amalgamation, they’re eliminating a lot of the top brass, thereby maybe putting more money into the opportunities for us to apply,” she explained.
“All of the Safe Communities at the bottom level here, we’re really struggling trying to keep ahead,” added Silander, noting the group also is always looking for funding from various sources.
Previously, Silander said they would apply for grants, get the grants, and the membership would work together on programming.
But with restructuring in workplaces everywhere, she noted the time isn’t there anymore for members to do Safe Communities’ business and their own work.
Or, as Silander summed it up, “They are swamped at work.”
“Therefore, it all falls on the co-ordinator, who can’t do that, either,” she stressed. “You can’t do it yourself.”
Silander also noted many other organizations, such as the OPP, have changed their mandates and are doing more safety-related programs.
This has changed from when the safety coalition first started here, and means funding dollars are going to program providers other than Safe Communities.
“That’s not a negative thing, that’s a positive thing, but the actual dollars are moving out of the core,” she explained.
“We have just got to find out what we can do to stabilize again and keep going.
“We still get the per capita from the municipalities, which is absolutely wonderful, and without that we would never manage,” Silander added.
“But it just isn’t enough to keep us going, and it just isn’t the time right now to ask for more from municipalities, either, because everybody is struggling right now,” she reasoned.
Safe Communities received its community report card at its annual general meeting last Tuesday (Nov. 20), at which time it also elected Linda Plumridge as chair of the board of directors, and Elaine Fischer as vice-chair.
They join Silander, John Albanese, John Beaton, Felix Blasky, Freeda Carmody, and Peggy Loyie.
Silander said the committee can have up to nine directors, adding they would like to see a representative from a seniors’ group volunteer to get involved.
She also noted the committee is looking to do some restructuring.
“Our scope has changed,” she conceded. “We’re not the doers anymore because everybody is so busy.
“But in order to maintain our score cards and that, we have to really get moving,” she stressed, adding Safe Communities Rainy River District also is up for re-designation as a “Safe Community” next May.
“We’ve met everything in its entirety and we want to continue to do that, but we have to make sure we can be more stable financially,” Silander said.
“But we’ve been there before, we managed to pull together, managed to restructure, and away we went again.
“It’s not really scaring us a whole lot,” she remarked.
Still, Silander admitted the year ahead will be full of challenges.
“But are we going to make it? You’re darn right we are,” she vowed. “And we will surface bigger and better.”