I would like to take the opportunity to share with you Community Development Halton's recent report, "Inclusive Cities Canada - Burlington: Community Voices, Perspectives and Priorities." Inclusive cities and communities are critical not only to the well-being of individuals, but also to the social and economic health of nations. This study is part of a cross-Canada civic initiative based on a groundbreaking partnership among the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and five social planning partners in cities across Canada: Vancouver and North Vancouver, Edmonton, Burlington, Toronto and Saint John, N.B. Local Civic Panels composed of community leaders have given leadership and vision to the project and have developed recommendations that identify the steps needed to build an inclusive community. Recommendations are addressed to all levels of government and the community at large. Our full Burlington report is available online at www.cdhalton.ca and those of other partner cities at www.inclusivecities.ca. In the coming months, a cross-Canada report will be published, combining learnings from the participating cities across Canada. Civic Panel members and their social planning partners will be working individually and in cross-Canada civic alliances to move their recommendations forward.
An inclusive community is one that provides opportunities for the optimal well-being and healthy development of all children, youth and adults. Social inclusion is key to individual and collective well-being. All members of the community gain from social inclusion - those who are vulnerable for reasons of poverty, racism, or fear of difference - as well as the broader community that benefits when everyone is able to participate as a valued and contributing member of the community. Inclusive cities and communities are recognized as critical not only to the well-being of individuals, but also to the social and economic health of nations.
Inclusive Cities Canada: A Cross-Canada Civic Initiative (ICC) is an innovative and timely project to examine and enhance social inclusion in cities and communities across Canada. The aim of Inclusive Cities Canada is to strengthen the capacity of cities to create and sustain inclusive communities for the mutual benefit of all people.
Inclusive Cities Canada is a collaborative venture of five social planning organizations across Canada and the social infrastructure sub-committee of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). In each participating city, municipal and community leaders have come together to form a Civic Panel, to provide leadership and direction to the initiative locally. Local research, analysis and reporting by each of the five social planning partners is based on a common framework and methodology.
Inclusive Cities Canada - Burlington: Community Voices, Perspectives and Priorities reports on the first phase of the project in Burlington, and includes both qualitative and supplementary quantitative research. The report integrates the perceptions of 244 community members who participated in focus groups, local soundings and a survey. Statistical information pertaining to inclusion in Burlington has been added. The report contains several sections:
The Changing Face Of Burlington provides a statistical profile of the community.
Common Areas of Inquiry summarizes participants' observations and suggestions for change regarding the areas of inquiry discussed in all the participating cities: health care; crisis services; publicly funded education; early childhood development; recreation, arts and culture; transportation and mobility; local government; policing and justice; income and employment; housing; community safety; public spaces; and community capacities.
Local Soundings report on additional small-group discussions and interviews conducted with newcomers, seniors and youth, in order to clarify, and make more profound, the understandings gathered in focus groups.
Barriers To Social Inclusion. During this study, participants were asked to identify both what is being done well and what areas need improvement. They found that there are many strengths supporting inclusion in our community. However, certain broad themes arose in discussions on diverse areas of inquiry and local soundings, which have assisted in the identification of underlying barriers to social inclusion in our community, and have been useful to the Civic Panel in developing its recommendations. They are:
Underfunding Of Social Infrastructure
Poverty And Housing
One or both are raised in most areas of inquiry. Participants observe:
Income and Employment
Certain issues arise in the discussions:
In almost every area of inquiry, participants express concerns that inadequate public transportation, both within the community and to areas outside the community, compromises social inclusion. The major issues include:
Physical Planning And Accessibility
Despite some positive initiatives in city planning, participants express concerns about:
Being "Priced Out"
Participants express support for free programs and festivals, and believe that social inclusion is compromised by:
Policing and Justice
Participants believe there are "two realities of policing." They observe:
Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement that:
Communication And Awareness
Three aspects of communication and awareness are raised in nearly every area of inquiry:
Certain specific issues are frequently mentioned:
Participants observe several attitudes they believe are widespread among community members and that work against social inclusion:
NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome
Despite noting some strengths, such as an approachable City Council, advisory committees, free festivals, parks and public spaces, participants articulate concerns that social cohesion and civic engagement are compromised by numerous factors, including:
Recommendations have been developed by the Burlington Civic Panel to contribute to building social inclusion, and are addressed to all levels of government, community agencies and organizations. These recommendations will be included in the next edition of Community Dispatch Volume 9, #5 to be released May 2005.
Mayor Rob MacIsaac
City of Burlington
Executive Director, Community Development Halton
Councillor, Ward 1, City of Burlington
Deputy Chief, Halton Regional Police Service
Elderly Services Advisory Committee, Region of Halton
Past Chair, Board of Governors, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital
Inter-Church Council of Burlington
Burlington Counselling and Family Services
Superintendent, Halton Catholic District School Board
Diversity Co-ordinator, Halton District School Board
Performing Arts Burlington
Halton Multicultural Council
Canadian Federation of University Women
Burlington Chamber of Commerce
Bob Van Cleef
Oakville and District Labour Council
Burlington Community Foundation
Project Coordinator: Glynis Maxwell
Produced by Community Development Halton
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail: email@example.com