If COVID has taught us anything, it is the wisdom of working together to solve shared issues. From distilleries making hand sanitizer to fast food chains distributing masks, there was an abundance of collaboration and creative thinking on how to help protect each other during the pandemic.
Community safety and wellbeing is a shared issue, and the challenges faced by Wetaskiwin and area are not black and white – they are nuanced and very complex. Addressing and overcoming these challenges will require time, open and respectful dialogue, and ongoing inter-agency collaboration.
This is why City Administration has spearheaded a regional Community Safety and Wellbeing Steering Committee which includes representation from the City of Wetaskiwin and partner agencies, the County of Wetaskiwin, and Maskwacis.
“Administration has been actively working with community partners to nurture the development of a dynamic ecosystem which promotes discussion across the region to address the complex social challenges that we are all faced with – such as crime, homelessness, housing and food security, among many others,” said Paul Edginton, General Manager of Community and Protective Services with the City of Wetaskiwin.
Regional collaboration builds capacity through resource-sharing, which drastically improves the likelihood of the region successfully addressing these shared issues. The City is certainly part of helping find solutions – but cannot be the only one doing so. Additionally, it is the provincial order of government who oversees and is responsible for the management, organization and delivery of health care services for their residents.
“(Even though) the social issues we are facing in the City are not a municipality’s responsibility… in the last three years, we have taken it on as our responsibility,” stated Mayor Tyler Gandam at the July 19, 2021 regular City Council meeting. “We have advocated for provincial funding, we’ve advocated for federal funding, we’ve brought agencies in, we’ve partnered with other agencies to get things happening here. And while it hasn’t been fantastic, we are doing something more than we ever have before, and every time we have a misstep, we learn some different.”
“It’s really easy for people to sit on the sidelines and critique everything that’s going on without actually being involved, sitting in a meeting, (or) volunteering at a shelter,” stated Mayor Gandam during the Council meeting. “I can’t think of too many other municipalities that have stepped up the way that we have to ensure that our vulnerable population is being looked after.”
The City of Wetaskiwin is inviting interested local and regional community partners and agencies to the table to join in working toward solutions for these shared issues. More information on opportunities for involvement can be found at www.wetaskiwin.ca/steeringcommittee.