Opioid overdoses are now considered an epidemic, mental health calls for police and mental health Emergency Room visits are on the rise.
Some neighbourhoods see emergency responders repeatedly attending a single address, and social media posts from upset residents in Grey Bruce aren't hard to find.
In an effort to create a greater feeling of everyday safety, Grey and Bruce Counties are in the process of organizing a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
It's not just a local effort, changes in the Comprehensive Police Services Act (2019) mandate that every municipality do so by January 1st, 2021.
Both Grey and Bruce Counties are considering how it would likely be simpler to create a regional plan with one funding formula, rather than having scores of representatives meeting with the 19 communities in the area.
Moreover, many of the community organizations to be involved in the plan already serve Grey and Bruce as a region.
Grey County CAO Kim Wingrove says one major goal is to identify safety and well being risks in Grey Bruce and look for gaps in services.
A report by Wingrove says "It is about identifying local priority risks and examining current strategies through a holistic lens to determine if the right sectors, agencies and organizations are involved or if there are overlaps or gaps in service or programming."
For example, Halton Region's plan outlines a key issue, "Many calls to police are non-criminal in nature. These calls are often rooted in complex mental health or social issues, many of which could be dealt with more effectively outside of the emergency response system."
Grey Bruce OPP Detachment Commander, Inspector Martin Murray says the area has the services it needs and it's a matter of "Connecting all the dots with the right people."
Murray says the County has a responsibility for certain social services that are integral to community safety and well being planning when it comes to prevention, risk intervention, and incident response, "There are a lot of people who have a part of that puzzle, so putting them at the county level brings it all in so that each municipality doesn't have to reinvent the wheel."
Meanwhile, Inspector Murray has a first hand idea of how community members can work together to resolve an issue through use of a "situation table."
Murray says it is used by the OPP in a situation where there are repeated calls for a person or to an address.
Through Ontario's recently created safety plan of its own known as the Mobilization and Community Engagement Model an OPP Community Mobilization Officer can convene a meeting with people in the community who have the resources to help.
That way, Murray says, "The right people are looking at the problem" whether it be a mental health issue, a police issue or some other social service issue, "They've got the right supports, they've got the right help, they've got these things and our calls for service go down."
The total project budget is $105,000 which includes pay for a temporary part-time project coordinator plus travel and meeting expenses.
Wingrove says Grey County will use $55,000 of the province's $725,000 in one-time mitigation funding for small and rural municipalities for its share.
The group will likely include someone from the following sectors:
Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)
An education representative
Community or social service organization
Children or youth Service
Municipal or First Nation representative