Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
April 22, 2024
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News
January 23, 2024
Volume 194 No. 4

All in Together

Prince Edward Learning Centre and Thrive PEC collaborate on a Community Benefit Network
<p>A Community Benefit Network could soon be the catalyst for needed investments and improvements. (PELC graphic)</p>
A Community Benefit Network could soon be the catalyst for needed investments and improvements. (PELC graphic)

Through funding provided by the County Foundation and the United Way, the Prince Edward Learning Centre and Thrive PEC have created a Community Benefits Network in the County. The network brings businesses, organizations, and individuals together with the goal of creating Community Benefit Agreements to guide both public and private development. Such a network is crucial to negotiating with developers to ensure the local community benefits from new development.

Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are negotiated between developers, local residents and community groups, and Council. These agreements give residents a voice in infrastructure planning and land development processes – especially those historically excluded from these processes and decisions that affect them.

PELC’s Christine Durant explained CBNs started in the mid-1990’s in the United States, to guide the redevelopment of downtown cores. Leaders started asking questions about the how these projects might assist existing communities. Canadian mining firms overseas are associated with such community benefits. Schools and medical clinics in areas where such companies operate proceed from such agreements.

Ms. Durant noted a CBN could develop three-way agreements between residents, Council, and developers to address a number of key County issues. For example, she noted, the municipality has made a commitment to develop affordable housing, which means developers need to address that commitment in their proposals. With a Community Benefits Network, the County can shape the way new development contributes to the existing community.

Ontario legislated Community Benefits in the 2015 Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. It was the first Canadian jurisdiction to pass legislation to enable the consideration of community benefits in infrastructure planning and investment. The purpose of this Act is to establish mechanisms that support job creation and training opportunities, economic growth and protection of the environment, and incorporate design excellence into infrastructure planning.

In 2017, the Ministry of Infrastructure developed its Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-term Infrastructure Plan. It highlights Community Benefits Agreements as “one way for the government to pursue multiple policy goals, including poverty reduction, employment and training, especially for under-represented groups, and support of small business.”
Togehter, these frameworks mean the province expects developers bidding on large infrastructure projects to include community benefits in their proposals.

Read more at Infrastructure Ontario:  www.infrastructureontario.ca/Community-Benefits

“We are looking at inclusive, collaborative and accountable processes to guide a development project toward policies that are beneficial to the community, such as equity, poverty reduction, affordable housing, sustainability of the environment, and workforce development,” Ms. Durant told Council last week.

Public discussions to be held in the coming weeks will identify community priorities. Education and negotiation with developers will follow, leading to specific agreements and implementation strategies with monitoring and oversight by the Network.

“We are making sure we are hearing from people who often aren’t part of the conversation and aren’t heard from – low income families, differently abled, and young people,” Ms. Durant added.

Thrive and PELC host community vision conversations at Prince Edward Community Centre Jan. 23 from 2-4 p.m. and Wellington and District Community Centre Jan. 30 from 6-8 p.m. These discussions will form a framework outlining community visions, goals and targets.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 4 edition of The Picton Gazette
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