District earns perfect safety scores again

Duane Hicks

There’s still no doubt the district deserves the title of a “safe community” after the Safe Communities Rainy River District (SCRRD) scored a perfect 20 out of 20 for the fourth-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.
These scores were above the national averages of 4.4, 4.2, 3.8, and 3.8 in leadership, priority setting, sustainability, and community engagement, respectively.
The district also scored above average for organizations within the Ontario region.
The average scores for these were 4.3, 3.9, 3.7, and 3.5 in leadership, priority setting, sustainability, and community engagement, respectively.
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 infrastructure, program sustainability, priority population, data programs, evaluation, and networking.
These scores were well above the national averages of 3.3, 3.3., 3.3, 3.9, 3.2, and 3.1, respectively.
The perfect scores also put the district well above organizations within the Ontario region that were evaluated using the same international indicators.
The average scores for Ontario organizations were 3.0, 3.0, 2.8, 3.6, 3.5, and 2.5 in infrastructure, program sustainability, priority population, data programs, evaluation, and networking, respectively.
SCRRD administrative co-ordinator Grace Silander said the local group has worked to keep the high marks—striving to improve itself and increase its programming.
“We’re still going strong,” she enthused. “There’s time when maybe the public may think that we’re not doing as much of this as last year, but it could be that we’re just working on a different set of programs.
“If you run the same programs steady, you are going to fall,” Silander warned.
“What we have to do is keep a good mix of programs,” she stressed. “We have to make sure we’re identifying all of the age groups, a variety of different topics and areas.
“That’s how you keep your scores up.
“What we do is we listen to our community and try to make sure that we work on their say, so that we’re actually engaging the community in what we’re doing,” she explained.
The report indicated the local safety coalition is one of 13 Canadian Safe Communities to record a perfect 20/20 attribute score.
It also noted some of its community strengths include:
•having a broad range of community partners;
•ensuring 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;
•using Safe Communities Canada’s Community-Based Injury Prevention Priority Setting exercise to set its community’s injury priorities, assuring the priorities have been set transparently, and are visible and credible;
•securing funding from a variety of sources and expanding its reach and influence in the community, and “protecting itself from the consequences of reduction in single source financial support”;
•demonstrating a strategic use of its resources, especially volunteers;
•having 200 volunteers contributing 2,500 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 a total of 35 injury prevention and safety promotion programs running in the community during the past year. This represents an increase from 22 in 2009;
•having 250 citizens in the community participating in various injury prevention and safety promotion program it has developed or championed last year; and
•enhancing its profile as a leader in the community through media.
So what’s the key to continued success?
“I think the biggest thing for our continuing success is the continuing funding and the ability to keep these things going,” said Silander.
“Many, many thanks to the district municipalities that are supporting us with the per capita [dollars].
“Without that funding, we wouldn’t be sustainable at all,” she noted.
“In this day and age, things are getting more and more expensive. It’s costing more to do even a small little thing.”
Silander said because SCRRD is a non-profit corporation, and not able to give out tax receipts, it hasn’t been able to solicit donations from corporations and the like.
However, Safe Communities Canada recently has made it possible for donors to support the SCRRD and get a tax receipt.
Anyone visiting SCRRD’s website (www.safetycoalition.ca) can make donations by clicking the “donate” button on the upper right-hand side of the page.
This will link back to Safe Communities Canada, where the donor can fill out a form indicating they want to donate to Safe Communities Rainy River District and to provide other relevant information.
The donation even can be funnelled to a specific program if the donor chooses (simply indicate this in the comment box on the donation form).
Safe Communities Canada then forwards the information and donation to the local group.
“They keep absolutely nothing,” Silander stressed. “The whole amount comes to the local level, and a tax receipt from Safe Communities Canada is issued to you.”
Silander said the donation option was deemed necessary because many Safe Communities groups are struggling to stay afloat.
“We’ve been very, very active. We are always looking for grants, and applying for grants,” she noted.
“But even the grants are getting harder and harder to get now because there’s so many people applying for the grants,” she reasoned.
Silander also reiterated the continuing importance of district volunteers.
“Without the volunteers and the time donated by these people, we couldn’t do it,” she conceded. “I know lots of times you’ll see people in uniform doing things, but a lot of times that uniform is to identify the corporation or the department that they actually are representing.
“Not always are they on the payroll when they’re standing there.
“Without the volunteers, without the municipal support, it just wouldn’t happen,” Silander said.
The local safety coalition is a network of partners which collectively focuses on making the district a safer place to live, work, and play.
Numerous programs—ranging from bike helmet and car seat safety and Hallowe’en “glow sticks” to seniors’ safety and drug abuse prevention—are carried out by 25 partners such as the OPP, fire department, Northwestern Health Unit, Family and Children’s Services, Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., and the local school boards.
The RRVSC was designated as a “Safe Community” by Safe Communities Canada in 1997. At that time, there only were two other safe communities in Canada (Calgary and Brockville).
It then was designated by the World Health Organization in 2002, and re-designated in May, 2008.
The safety coalition also won the Safe Communities Canada Award of Excellence in both 2007 and 2008 (it was not eligible to be nominated for a third year in a row).