Community organizations will be taking the lead over federal funding being sought by the City of Prince Albert for the implementation of solutions to problems identified by the Chronic Risk Forum that was formed following the report on the Homelessness Action Initiative.
During Monday’s meeting, City Council voted in favour of proceeding with a proposal for funding through the Building Safer Communities Fund in the amount of $1.1 million over four years that was earmarked by Public Safety Canada for municipalities to initiate community-led projects to combat gun and gang violence, as well as address knowledge gaps concerning the impacts of interventions.
“Finally, we’re getting monies to utilize in our City to address some of the issues we’re seeing within our community,” said Coun. Tony Head, who added he was excited to see the motion come before Council. “I know a lot of works been done in reporting, within identifying, [and] coming up with actionable initiatives.”
In the report to Council, City Administration along with Dr. Chad Nilson of the Living Skies Centre for Social Inquiry came up with four core areas that will be the focus of the proposal:
• Gathering knowledge on common risks and barriers impacting gang/gun violence
• Investing in prevention/intervention of chronic risk leading to gang/gun violence
• Alignment of systems around a framework towards community safety and well-being
• Collaborating on practical solutions for chronic risk management
City Planner Craig Guidinger explained that the allocation of the funds will be up to the community partners that are involved with the Chronic Risk Forum, as the City’s goal is only to provide them with coordination. The forum will involve Council and Guidinger will supply them with regular updates, but not every decision they make will come through City Hall Chambers for approval, he said.
With some of the funds, Administration is intending to contract an employee that will be in charge of pulling together the knowledge base that was identified in the Homelessness Action Initiative report and coordinating the community organizations for the implementation of actionable solutions.
City Councillor Terra Lennox-Zepp voiced her concerns with Guidinger’s report, stating that it seems less focused on implementation and more on analyzing and research. She moved a motion that the matter be referred back to Administration for review and report on determining the estimated percentage of funds that will be allocated to research and what will be provided to the organizations for community action, but it was withdrawn after Guidinger pointed out that it would take several months to get Council concrete numbers, impacting the timeline to receive the money.
Guidinger clarified that while the proposal is bound by the agreement with the federal government and the money can only be used for certain things, it is flexible.
“The key is that we want to provide that coordinated support,” said Guidinger. “You might hear words like gathering knowledge and analyze, [but] we’re certainly not going out and doing another report. What we’re looking to do is pull information together that’s already been done and from there, come up with actionable initiatives that we can actually move forward.”
Guidinger said Administration is hopefully that the agreement with Public Safety Canada will be received within days and with Council’s approval, the next step will be reaching out to the City’s community organizations to provide them with the resources they need to begin putting their plans into motion.