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Community Safety and Well-Being

Community safety and well-being is the ideal state of a sustainable community where everyone is safe, has a sense of belonging, opportunities to participate, and where individuals are able to meet their needs for education, health care, food, housing, income, and social and cultural expression, as defined the Province of Ontario Community Safety & Well-Being Planning Framework.


Effective community strategies for substance use prevention are built on identifying and strengthening protective factors. Protective factors are characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor’s impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events.

Building on existing community protective factors means enhancing environments using a variety of evidence informed approaches within communities so that there exist opportunities to be healthy and resilient for society. Strategies should include strengthening health, well-being and resiliency, reducing stigma, and addressing the root causes of harmful behaviors.

Protective factors for substance use prevention for communities include:

  • Strong cultural identity – feeling a sense of belonging to a group (comprehending your own cultural history and identity helps you appreciate others’).
  • Community cohesion – trusting network of relationships and shared values and norms of residents in a neighborhood.
  • Access to positive social activities – activities that enhance health and mental well-being.
  • Community interventions addressing social determinants of health factors – the social determinants of health influence how a community experiences health. Community actions that seek to remove socioeconomic and racial disparities will improve the health opportunities in their community.

What do the above effective substance use prevention strategies look like in a community?

  • Access and availability of culturally diverse and equitable social activities
  • Policies that reduce access, availability and visibility of adults role modelling substance use (e.g.: limiting availability of alcohol). See below in the tabs for more information and see Alcohol, Smoking and Vaping at Events for tips.
  • Communities that include active transportation, access to healthy eating and mental well-being in their built environment.
  • Advocacy for provincial and federal policy change (and funding) to address the root causes of health inequity (and substance use) such as lack of access to safe housing, unhealthy food and a below-living wage (poverty, gender and race inequity, and trauma)
  • Locally, activities that include:
    • Partnerships with community groups, public health and local leaders. Using clinical experience and research evidence to advocate for social change. Getting involved in community needs assessment and health planning
    • Community engagement, empowerment and changing social norms

Contact your Public Health Nurse Municipal Liaison to support health in your community.

References:

Risk and Protective Factors

Substance Use Prevention and Health Promotion

Taking action on the social determinants of health in clinical practice: a framework for health professionals

Municipalities and Cannabis

Municipalities have an important role to play in creating an environment that decreases the risk associated with cannabis use, and supports healthy decision-making around cannabis use, particularly among young people.

Please refer to the documents below for further information on smoking by-law language for municipal policy and retail outlet considerations.

Municipal Alcohol Policies

The Health Unit can assist with creating a Municipal Alcohol Policy or updating your municipal alcohol policy. By developing these policies through a community-involved process, communities can manage alcohol use better and reduce alcohol-related injuries at municipal events.

For more information about municipal alcohol policies see:

Smoke Free By-Laws

The Health Unit encourages municipalities and sports and recreation organizations to create smoke-/vape-free spaces so everyone can enjoy clean air and good health. We also provide signs for community parks, playgrounds and sports fields. Please see our Smoking/Vaping site for Fact Sheets on Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017.

Examples of smoke-free policies can be found on the Municipalities and Cannabis: A Public Health Perspective Fact Sheet.

Municipal Drug Strategy

The Municipal Drug Strategy encourages multi-sectoral communication and collaboration across a four pillar framework – prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement to meet the needs of the community. The community can collectively organize their efforts to enhance the supports, skills and knowledge for healthy decision making and risk reduction with respect to substance use – including but not limited to alcohol, cannabis, prescription and street drugs. Municipalities are in the unique position at the Municipal level to draw on volunteers who care about their neighbourhood and neighbours, and are passionate about their community.

For more information about Municipal Drug Strategies:

For more information on joining an MDS or starting one, email: [email protected]. If you have an MDS and are looking for support see the Planet Youth Lanark County section below. There may be some local data and resources there that may be helpful for your group.

Planet Youth Lanark County

Planet Youth is not a program – it’s a new approach to identifying and establishing long-term, community-driven strategies that promote positive social and environmental change.

It was pioneered in Iceland over 20 years ago – since then, the youth substance use rate there has gone from 48% to less than 5% in 2017.

Grade 10 students in Lanark County were surveyed and this data can be used for planning programs and initiatives using this approach. Results can be search for the County or by Municipality.

For more information on this approach or to see what youth have said about substance use, peer groups, parents and family, leisure and school see the links above. If you are a community group who would like to participate in implementing this approach locally contact Planet Youth Lanark County.

Harm Reduction Steering Committee

The Community Harm Reduction Steering Committee is a locally driven initiative of community partners working together to move harm reduction strategies forward across Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. The committee consists of a wide range of community partners from a multitude of sectors including community health centres, first responders, social services, counselling and treatment services, public health and law enforcement. The committee focuses on education and awareness building activities, bringing evidence-based strategies to the community and advocating on behalf of community members affected by substance use.  Go to our Drug Use and Harm Reduction page for more information.

Opioid Community Response

The Opioid Community Response section of Drug Use and Harm Reduction will give you alerts, the overdose tool and resources to support your work and protect your community.

To get involved in upstream prevention or to learn what Lanark Youth are saying about substance use among other topics see Planet Youth Lanark.

For more information on Harm Reduction, needle disposal and overdose prevention see this section of our website.

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds focuses on empowering all residents; promoting health, not weight; being a positive role model through words and actions; promoting healthy eating and physical activity in a positive way that reduces weight bias and increases health; and providing encouragement and opportunities for bodies of all sizes and shapes. The Health Unit can support the municipality with promoting healthy bodies and healthy minds by:

  • In-servicing municipal staff and community partners on effective ways to promote physical activity, healthy eating, mental well-being, media literacy, body image and self-esteem.

Resources available:

Finding affordable and accessible recreation activities in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Counties isn’t always easy, especially for those in rural areas who live on a fixed income. Creating more programs and facilities that are low or no cost and improving access to existing facilities will make it easier for people to be active. The following are some resources to assist communities in providing high quality recreation programs:

For other ideas on providing affordable, accessible programs, see PRO resources.

Also see our Food in Recreation Facilities resources on the Access to Healthy Food page.

Invite youth to work with communities and municipalities to share their ideas. Help to create youth friendly environmentspromote youth engagement and positive youth development. Ensure policies, infrastructure and programming include youth, not only as a target, but also as leaders and advocates. The Youth Strategy Framework for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark is a road map to help guide, focus, and maximize collaborative actions to support the development of healthy, caring, responsible, and resilient youth.

For more information on supporting youth in your community visit the Alcohol, Cannabis & Other Drugs above.

Contact your Municipal Public Health Nurse if you would like support with your youth friendly community efforts.

Consider creating a municipal youth advisory committee to get youth engaged with local leadership, or encourage participation on county-wide committees like Lanark County’s Planet Youth ACHEIVE.