The new Halton Community Benefits Network (HCBN) is aptly-named since its mission is to help everybody in the region.
Launched in 2016, with support from the Atkinson Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the HCBN is a result of Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT) convening a cross-sector network of government partners, citizens with the lived experience of poverty, funders, community partners and business.
The HCBN encourages both public and private sectors to adopt business practices that lead to economic and social opportunity for everyone and deliver bottom-line benefits for Halton Region businesses, public sector organizations and citizens.
On Monday, June 19, the HCBN hosted a donor appreciation event in Oakville to recognize the Ontario Trillium and Atkinson foundations for their leadership and contribution to the HCBN.
The HCBN received $95,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and $45,000 from the Atkinson Foundation.
The HPRT is a collaborative, multi-sector group comprised of volunteers committed to leveraging resources and partnerships to eliminate poverty in Halton through education, greater community engagement and collective impact.
“We truly appreciate the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Atkinson Foundation, who have stepped forward and funded our activities. We do need support to be able to do the work to move this agenda forward,” said Ian Troop, HCBN chair.
“It’s groups like Trillium and Atkinson, and their active support, that allow us to actually move forward, engaging our communities, engaging our stakeholders along the way to ensure we build it together and what we build has a lasting impact.”
The HCBN offers public and in-house education opportunities, active social media conversation, online resources and is currently developing a tool kit to foster benefits in action.
The goal of the network is to build awareness within a community and is comprised of four areas:
• Anchor institutions — includes municipal governments, hospitals and public services
• Business vendors — includes providers of goods and services to the anchors
• Connector organizations — includes nonprofits, chambers of commerce and professional associations
• Beneficiary groups — includes the unemployed, youth at-risk, newcomers and citizens living with low income
“These are programs that are layered on top of existing streams, (which) will result in the benefit to all. As we do this, we’re building off of a pedigree that has started in Scotland with the Commonwealth Games in 2012,” said Troop.
“This has a pedigree of a program that works to maintain pricing on the goods and services required, but still be able to spend it in a way that has a secondary benefit that helps families and communities.”
Partners in the HCBN include the Halton Multicultural Council, Oakville Community Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Halton Cooperative Purchasing Group, Halton Region, Change Rangers, Town of Oakville, Town of Milton, Town of Halton Hills and United Way of Halton and Hamilton.
Mayor Rob Burton compared the work of HPRT to the new Community Safety and Well-Being plan from Halton police and the region, as well as Oakville’s draft Official Plan Amendments and Ontario’s housing policy, because they all work collaboratively to provide community benefits.
“When we need to do something big, we partner and co-operate together across the region in Halton. That’s been going on for a very long time. I’m always amazed at how hard that is to grasp. I don’t find it easy,” said Burton.
“People expect well-thought out plans that work and aim high on behalf of the community. Our community aims high.”
Monday’s event also launched HCBN’s new website (http://haltoncommunitybenefits.com/) and its 2017 complementary report, “No Neighbour in Need.”
Mark Venning, HCBN member, said the community benefits and social procurement initiative is an “emergent kind of conversation” in Halton.
“Our first goal as a community benefits network is to act as a catalyst for this change. In this process, the website is the beginning part of building awareness and engagement through education,” said Venning.
Gilmar Militar, Ontario Trillium Foundation program manager, noted the HCBN is part of the first few Collective Impact Grants, which works with organizations to address “complex community issues.”