You can look at almost every aspect of city operations and you’ll find some kind of partnership with a community group, a charity, another government or some other agency.
We’re dependent on partnerships, which is why I often talk about the value of working together better.
Our partners bring a lot to the table. They have resources, expertise, knowledgeable volunteers and staff. Most of all they have a commitment to make the city better.
We have a productive relationship with the County of Brant. We’ve scored some successes with our shared programs to deliver social services and construct more than 500 affordable housing units.
But the affordable housing program goes beyond that. Private sector organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Jaycee Homes and Indwell are going to develop another 500 affordable housing units.
In a similar vein, our shelter system is run by partners such as Nova Vita, Rosewood House and the Salvation Army.
Another significant partner is Six Nations. We’re finding projects we can do together that benefit both communities. For example, we’re working on a plan to develop a transit link between Six Nations and Brantford.
The Community Drug Strategy is another great example of the value of partnerships.
There isn’t one organization in town that can do everything that is needed to fight substance abuse. But working together, we do have the capacity, thanks to partners in the health care system, St. Leonard’s Community Services, the Grand River Community Health Centre and others.
An interesting partnership is the proposal to build a new centre downtown that will be the home of 10 different social services organizations.
Groups such as Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services, Community Living Brant, Willowbridge Community Services and the local branch of Canadian Mental Health Association would occupy a building on city-owned property adjacent to the parking garage. It would reduce their operating costs and make it easier for their 27,000 clients to access their services.
Not all our partnerships are big, city-wide efforts. We get right down to the grassroots in our partnership with neighbourhood associations which carry out their own programs and provide information back to city hall on what their neighbourhood needs.
One interesting example of a three-way partnership is the work Laurier Brantford did to develop a computerized record-keeping system for neighbourhood ice rinks. It used to be done on paper and was cumbersome. Now it’s easy for the neighbourhood associations to manage the information. This has also reduced staff time at city hall needed to process the information.
Talking about sports, the city’s parks department works with the Brantford Sports Council. It provides advice on the design of parks and sporting facilities, based on the needs of the various sports clubs. The plan for a new cricket pitch was made possible through the participation of the sports council.
Laurier and Conestoga College are huge partners. Not only have they brought thousands of students to the community, they are playing a leading role downtown by repurposing buildings that might otherwise be empty.
Laurier has taken over the former Market Square mall and has exciting plans for a new cultural hub – a small performance theatre – that arts groups have been seeking for years.
Conestoga focuses on skilled trades training and that’s something we really need here. Conestoga rents space in a city-owned hanger at the Brantford Airport where they deliver their large equipment course.
There are connections between the city and the Laurier Students Association. We meet regularly with them and because of their input, our transit buses now allow passengers riding after dark to get off between stops, closer to home. It’s a safer system that’s good for all our transit passengers, not just students.
We’re also working the Lansdowne Children’s Centre to find a new home for their work with children and youth with communication, developmental or physical needs. Their facility on Mount Pleasant Street is bursting at the seams. The city has offered them 10 acres at no cost at the Greenwich-Mohawk site.