City council has agreed to spend $15,000 to define what the municipality’s role is regarding social well-being in the community.
The decision came on the heels of a suggestion from Urban Systems consultants when city staff were beginning work on the city’s strategic plan with council.
Erin Jackson, the city’s director of corporate services, provided a report to council’s April 12 meeting with the rationale for the expenditure.
“Salmon Arm, like many municipalities across B.C., is facing challenges related to income inequality, homelessness, opioid use and access to adequate support services. As a result, there are increasing expectations by some that the city should act to address these challenges, even though they fall outside the mandate of local government services. Due to the confusion that exists regarding the city’s roles and responsibilities with respect to social well-being, council and staff have understandably struggled with how to navigate
Jackson said “the Urban Systems team approached staff about the possibility of incorporating a social well-being component into the strategic plan that would essentially help staff and council address these conversations in the community and act as a convener potentially.”
Jackson said it would help clarify the roles and responsibilities of the city in relation to social well-being and help set the tone in the community about what its partner agencies and the public can expect.
The project lists five components: a staff workshop regarding roles and responsibilities in social well-being; interviews with the social services sector and community partners; a staff and council workshop; preparation of a roles and responsibilities document and preparation of a public education guide.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond, chair of the city’s social impact advisory committee, voiced her support for the plan. She said staff and council are being relied on more and more to be involved in deliberations about the social impact of the decisions they make and the role they play in the decisions other agencies need to make.
She said the pandemic has helped the city and agencies work together, but she would like to see what’s been accomplished maintained rather than redone in the event of another crisis.
“I think it’s an important step moving forward to leverage the funds that our service agencies already get, so it’s not about us delivering service, it’s about how we can help them deliver their services and still do our job in full support.”
Couns. Flynn, Lindgren and Lavery also expressed their support.
The vote to award the project to Urban Systems for $15,000 from the city’s Communication Plan Reserve passed unanimously, with Coun. Chad Eliason absent.