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Welcoming Communities

Welcoming Communities and Placemaking

Welcoming communities are places where new residents will feel valued, included, and have their needs served. These communities identify and remove barriers, promote a sense of belonging, meet diverse individual needs and offer services that promote and support the ability of newcomers to contribute in every dimension of life-economic, social, cultural and political. Characteristics of a community would include adequate wages, low unemployment, lack of discrimination, bylaws that support and promote safe, healthy and welcoming communities for a diverse population.

Looking for a place to start?

The Measuring Welcoming Communities Toolkit has been developed by Pathways to Prosperity, in order to support the groundwork in understanding a community and planning how to shape it to become more welcoming.

Measuring Welcoming Communities: A Toolkit for Communities and Those Who Support Them – Pathways to Prosperity: Canada

Measuring inclusion tool for municipal governments

Measuring inclusion-strategies to improve your inclusiveness. If you are planning a community event see our Event Organizers- Inclusive and Welcoming Events section for tips.

Actively acknowledging and addressing racism helps municipalities to be a welcoming and diverse community with all the benefits this brings expanding and sustaining their workforce.

“Racism and other forms of discrimination are a daily reality across Canada. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO actively fights racism and discrimination in all forms. This work is important because, while Canada is a multicultural country that welcomes newcomers from all parts of the world, the reality is that no country is perfect—and hate crimes, among other incidents, here have been on the rise. For example, did you know that:

35.7% of the population self-reported discrimination or unfair treatment due to their ethnicity or culture, race or skin colour, physical appearance, sex or age. (Statistics Canada, 2022) Find more information here: Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities

For municipalities (Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities toolkits):

Access to Healthy Food

“Everyone has the right to food. Food contributes to physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. The food system includes everything from growing food, to processing, storing, transporting, selling, buying, preparing, eating food and managing food waste. From producers to eaters – we are all part of the food system.”

Food Charter for United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and Lanark County

FoodcoreLGL has released an implementation toolkit for municipalities. The Municipal Toolkit uses the five main principles of the Food Charter for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and Lanark County and offers concrete and credible ideas on how municipalities can apply those principles in policy and by-law development and in collaborative work within their communities.

Building Healthier Food Environments within Recreation Spaces explains why recreation facilities are ideal locations to promote a healthy food environment, as they already support physical activity and active lifestyles.

Fuelling Recreation in Your Community is a toolkit that gives ideas on how to promote healthy food environments within your recreation facilities. It provides details on the essential elements of a healthy recreation food environment, local success stories, strategies to overcome barriers and mitigate profit loss, tips for working with vendors and other useful information.

Community gardens help provide an area to grow food, build community, strengthen neighbourhoods, support mental and physical well-being, promote intergenerational opportunities and collaboration, and make the community greener. They become meeting places and help build social connections.

Municipalities and their partners can play a supportive role in the development of community gardens by:

  • Making space on municipal property available to residents to create community gardens
  • Providing financial support
  • Helping with the promotion of community gardens
  • Helping to cover liability
  • Providing access to municipal water for irrigation
  • Collaborating with groups to develop community gardens
  • Hosting or supporting events at community garden locations to promote their use
  • Providing staff support to community groups like the ones listed below
  • And more!

See a list of current growing and gathering food activities in foodcoreLGL’s Food Inventory.

Do you have a kitchen space that could support opportunities for community groups to cook and eat together? Visit our Food Safety webpage to learn how to ensure your kitchen is safe by involving a Public Health Inspector. See here for current cooking programs in your community.

If your municipality operates any child care facilities or settings, visit our child care page for tools and recipes to help you implement the nutrition sections of the Child Care and Early Years Act, and more!

As a Municipality you can also support your staff by creating a healthy supportive environment within the workplace. For information to help both employers and employees create a healthy eating environment in the workplace, visit our Where you Learn, Work and Play page.

If you are planning a community event, see our event organizers section for tips on food at events.

Not everyone has the income to purchase nutritious food. If you or someone you know needs help to get food visit the Help Getting Food section in the foodcoreLGL Food Inventory.

For more information please contact [email protected].

  • Work collaboratively to establish housing within healthy and complete community settings. Healthy and complete community settings include access to active transportation networks, public transportation, recreation and social opportunities, green and blue (water) spaces, shade, essentials including grocery stores, pharmacies, primary care, schools, senior services, home delivery and support services for older adults. 
    • Rationale: Physical environments, social support networks, and access to health services are all determinants of health. Increasing access to transportation, health services and natural spaces will promote health. Determinants of Health.
  • Collaborate and consult on housing habitability and safety concerns with partner agencies to ensure housing is free of health hazards and contaminants. Consider the following safety and health hazards: smoke & vape free policies, radon, drinking water, mould, hoarding, fire prevention and protection (fire barriers where required, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, fire escapes etc.) occupancy load of the building to prevent overcrowding, proper zoning of the building, adequate temperature controls, and adequate ventilation. Review current and new housing spaces with partners, including public health, for health hazards and contaminants.
    • Rationale: Collaboratively we can strengthen the process for assessing health hazards that may exist in the natural and built environment to prevent or reduce the burden of illnesses and improve housing safety. Ontario Public Health Standards. Health Hazards Response Protocol. Towards Healthy Homes for all. RentSafe Summary and Recommendations.
  • Lower tier municipalities could update their Property Standards By-laws as needed, to ensure they are comprehensive in addressing indoor & outdoor environmental health hazards in rental housing (e.g., smoke, indoor air quality, mould, radon, grow operations). The Health Environments Team at the Health Unit is available to consult on for some health related topics including safe water, mould, radon and air quality. Contact your Municipal PHN if you are looking form information or support.
  • Implement universal and targeted interventions to protect equity deserving groups from the health effects of climate change. For example, consider interventions that will protect the health of individuals experiencing homelessness in times of extreme heat. Possible interventions include providing access to shelters that offer cooling, housing and shelters that are within proximity to shade and green spaces, conducting health checks, landlords trained in assessment for heat related illness, air conditioning in common rooms, extend municipal splash pad and pool hours).
    • Rationale: Extreme heat events are projected to increase with climate change. The elderly, young children, individuals living with a disability, those living alone and working or living outside are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat events. Canada in a Changing Climate

Safe Housing and Healthy Communities

Summary Report: Strategies for Responding to Community Opposition to Affordable Housing

Despite the known benefits of affordable housing and the negative aspects of housing inequality, the supply of social and affordable housing in Canada is lacking. One challenge to increasing the supply of affordable housing is community opposition, often described as NIMBYism (i.e. Not in My Backyard opposition). This summary report highlights key findings from applied research on affordable housing and neighbourhoods and provides evidence-based strategies for responding to community opposition.

Full Report: Strategies for Responding to Community Opposition to Affordable Housing Providers

This full report highlights reasons why community members might be opposed to affordable housing (e.g. crime and safety, impact on property values, changing community character, stereotypes about the people who live in affordable housing, and design, quality and maintenance) and provides strategies for responding.

The Distinct Housing Needs of Rural Communities – Fact Sheet

Rural communities face unique challenges related to housing need, however, there is significantly less research or data on the extent of this need. This is partly because homelessness and housing insecurity are less visible in rural areas and is exacerbated by an existing lack of services, forcing households in need of assistance to move to urban areas. This fact sheet highlights what kind of community opposition rural communities experience and how to respond.

Housing First and Homelessness Prevention

  • Use a housing first approach. Ensure that housing is an early priority for those experiencing homelessness, with no conditions or requirements to become eligible for housing or to remain housed in the long term. Examples of requirements that present a barrier to housing include: requiring sobriety, prohibiting pets, prohibiting couples (co-habitation), requiring engagement with support services, etc.
    • Rationale: Being housed eliminates homelessness. Not having preconditions or ongoing requirements to remain housed is more effective for people experiencing homelessness and more cost-effective in the long term for communities and funders.
  • Establish equity, diversity and inclusion policies, practices and trainings.
    • Rationale: Anti-discrimination strategies such as trainings and policies can reduce the incidence of homelessness amongst equity deserving groups who encounter stigma and discrimination as barriers to safe, adequate and affordable housing e.g. Indigenous Peoples, 2SLGBTQIA+, and racialized groups. A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention.
  • Advocate for governments to adopt income based solutions so that all residents can afford their basic needs including shelter and food. As outlined in the Nutritious Food Basket, income based solutions to affording basic needs such as shelter and food, include increasing social assistance/ODSP and minimum wage, implementing basic income guarantee, and improving employment standards.
  • Continue to engage those with lived experiences of homelessness in all stages of program planning, implementation and evaluation.
    • Rationale: Engaging individuals with lived experiences is central to effective change within a community. The Content Experts.
  • Integrate age friendly and youth engagement approaches into your housing and homelessness plans, policies and practices.
  • Continue to raise awareness on the status of homelessness, housing and health to influence policy change at federal and provincial levels.
  • Incorporate socialization and community integration mechanisms once a person is housed.
  • Prioritize multidisciplinary engagement and partnership when engaging in systems change to prevent and end homelessness.
  • Partner with other organizations in the community, including public health, to provide essential services to recently housed clients and individuals experiencing homelessness.
    • Rationale: There are a number of complex, varied, and bi-directional associations between homelessness and health. An evidence review by Public Health Ontario (2019) highlights a number of health outcomes faced by individuals experiencing homelessness including infectious diseases (sexually transmitted infections, HIV, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis), mental illness, substance use disorders and injuries. Public health services can support with chronic disease prevention, harm reduction, and injury prevention.

Workforce, Community and Economic Development

Renfrew Lanark Labour Market group have free data on economic modeling Home – Labour Market Group of Renfrew and Lanark

  • What skills are in demand in my area?
  • What is the demographic of workers in my area?
  • What is the median wage for my occupation?

Analyst is a tool to look at your regional economy and learn more about what sectors are strong and what to work on. You can get a membership for a limited time.

This network offers a variety of information and resources for cycling in Ontario, inspiring visitors and residents to explore more by bike.