• Group thinks of ways to strengthen Milton community

    This article was published on October 27, 2016

    A group of like-minded Miltonians are putting their heads together and brainstorming ways to strengthen the local community.

    From how to address youth-related issues to community integration for newcomers, topics that ran the gamut of local needs were discussed at a meeting held on Saturday (Oct. 22) at the Milton Seniors’ Activity Centre.

    More than 50 local residents turned out for the session, organized by Grace Anglican Church and several other partners, that opened up a day-long conversation on what can be done to make a difference in Milton.

    “It’s about making change in the community; that’s what we’re trying to do,” said participant Lorhel White.

    Of all the issues discussed, the need to help local youth stood out to the Milton resident.

    “There’s a hidden population of youth who aren’t doing well in our community,” she said. “Maybe they’re sleeping on someone’s couch, or having problems of some kind. Or maybe they’re living in a household with three or four families and it’s hard for them to study, plus difficult for the families themselves to get ahead in the community. We need to provide the services and help for them.”

    A variety of suggestions were made to provide an outreach of sorts to youth and families to complement what’s already available in the community, including the creation of a hub model for service delivery, engagement of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee and development of a package that lists all subsidies available for youth and families who need them.

    Local resident Carey de Pass expanded on the topic of youth problems, discussing the difficulties they’re having finding meaningful employment with a wage they can live on, even after pursuing costly post-secondary education.

    In Halton, the “living wage,” or hourly rate that ensures a person working full-time can earn enough to participate in the normal life of their community, is $17.05 per hour, according to livingwagehalton.ca.

    On the housing front, event participants concurred that long waitlists for affordable housing are a “red flag” that more needs to be done to create economical accommodations in the community.

    Suggested remedies included collaboration between the private and public sectors and government to further address the issue, regulating rent rates and appealing to builders to leave space for more affordable housing.

    And on the topic of community integration for newcomers, an annual festival to inform and celebrate diversity was among the ideas that topped the list, along with offering an orientation for newcomers on the resources available in Milton, such as transit.

    Following the discussion, those in attendance took part in a bit of ‘dot’mocracy, where they placed dot stickers beside the topics they deemed a priority. While the vote was close in many cases, it appears that affordable housing and community integration for newcomers came out on top.

    The community partners involved in the initiative include Halton Region, Food for Life and Community Development Halton.

    Grace Anglican Church Reverend Sue Nicolls, who helped spearhead the event, said she received a lot of positive feedback from the discussion’s participants, with many hoping that a similar event will be held in the future.

    “If there’s a need for change in the community and we want change, it’s not going to happen right away. It’s going to take a while, and we will need to have lots of conversations,” she said.

    Nicolls is hopeful that in the coming days, weeks and months the event participants will keep the momentum going and begin working on the initiatives that were discussed, with support from the involved community agencies.

    Funding for the event came through a grant from Grace Anglican Church for food costs, along with a support grant from the Diocese of Niagara for community development.

    The facilitator for the event was covered by Healthy Communities Ontario, which works with groups across the province to build healthy, vibrant communities.

    Link to Article: wym-1477921603000