Webinar: Cities Building Social Value: Social Procurement Strategies and CBA’s in Halton and Peel Regions

Positive social value initiatives, including social procurement strategies and Community Benefit Agreements, hold the promise of building more wealth within our communities. They have the ability to engage business, government, and community sectors in different ways, to work together towards reducing poverty and building more inclusive economies. Two regions in southwestern Ontario – Peel Region and Halton Region – are building the case for and are pursuing social procurement practices and large-scale Community Benefit Agreements, with the support of laws and policies at the local and provincial level.

André Lyn of the Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy and Leena Sharma Seth of the Halton Poverty Roundtable, joins us with Rosemarie Powell of the Toronto Community Benefits Network, to talk about their experiences with initiatives that are increasing social value in the community, including the recent successful Metrolinx Community Benefits Framework, which was signed as part of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Transit Railway (LRT) development. In this webinar, they look at some of the most frequently asked questions, such as, assessing community benefit opportunities, identifying and engaging the right people at the table, how to define success, and more.

Halton group recognizes donors for supporting new community network

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.”

Halton Community Benefits Network; A Catalyst for Community-level Change

Halton Community Benefits Network: A Catalyst for Community-level Change

(A variation of this blog was originally posted on the Cities Reducing Poverty blog in March 2017).

By: Leena Sharma Seth, Director, Community Engagement Halton Poverty Roundtable

The Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT) is five years old this year. As the longest serving staff of this collective impact movement, I have had the privilege of witnessing close up, the evolution of our work, the growing community engagement, and the true power of collaboration to amplify our ability to address some of the root causes of poverty. Over the last year or so, we’ve been fortunate to have gained the community will and funder support to go deeper into exploring the real opportunity that community benefits agreements and social procurement policies represent as a poverty elimination tool in the income security arsenal.

The seeds for this work were planted in the spring of 2015. Tamarack hosted their first Cities Reducing Poverty Summit in Ottawa and five members and staff from the HPRT drove down for the week long event. I had just had my second daughter so wasn’t there personally, though I heard from everyone about what a powerful learning opportunity the Summit was and how pumped people were with ideas and inspiration. While in Ottawa, our team met with Collette Murphy, Executive Director of the Atkinson Foundation. As a result of this meeting, Colette came to Halton that fall to talk about community wealth building opportunities. Toronto’s work on Community Benefits Agreements came up during her presentation and a spark of interest was ignited in our community as a result of this community conversation.

Ian Troop, a member of the Halton Poverty Roundtable, and past CEO of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games, realized that he and his team at the Pan Am Games had experience with what was now being called Community Benefits Agreements. We took this seed and nourished it with further conversation, applied for funding from Trillium, and were successful. In early spring 2016, I returned from maternity leave with a mandate to explore the possibility of launching a local social procurement and community benefits agreement effort.

Tamarack’s second Cities Reducing Poverty Summit: When Mayors Lead was held in Edmonton last April. This summit was phenomenal;

  • 27 municipal and regional governments were directly represented
  • 11 Municipal/Regional Poverty Reduction Strategies were presented
  • During the conference, Mayors Poverty Summit was in the top three for trending topics in social media in Canada

I came back from this conference with a host of new connections and a tenacious determination to focus more on engaging our local political leadership in a dialogue on a place-based poverty reduction strategy. And also to see how community benefits agreements could be a testing ground for stronger municipal collaboration in a cross sector collective.

Along with HPRT members Barb Chilwell, a business woman and member with lived experience of poverty, and Ian, (now the co-chair of our emerging Community Benefits Agreements and Social Procurement work), we went to visit the Mayors in our region; Mayor Rob Burton in Oakville,

Mayor Rick Goldring in Burlington, and Mayor Gord Krantz in Milton. We also work closely with the Halton Region, one of the founding members of the HPRT. During these meetings we discussed the ‘Cities Reducing Poverty Summit: When Mayors Lead’ conference, the learnings that came from the summit (we shared a copy of Ten: A Guide for Cities Reducing Poverty with each Mayor), the possibility of a place-based poverty reduction strategy, and specifically, the opportunity that our community benefits agreement work could represent for deeper municipal engagement.

While this process does continue today, Mayor Rob Burton has since become a champion of our Community Benefits Work, and is focused on entrenching our work in municipal policy, namely Halton’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan, which is currently in development. Mayor Burton was also recently elected as the Chair of the Halton Region’s Health and Social Services Committee, which will enable him to further champion the work of anti-poverty in our community.

As a part of our plan to determine if there was appetite in Halton to launch a focused and cross-sector effort on community benefits agreements, we organized a learning and consultation. We invited Colette Murphy back to talk about the role of Anchor Institutions in driving community benefits agreements and social procurement policy, Denise Andrea Campbell, Director of Social Policy, Analysis, and Research from the City of Toronto who presented on the city’s Social Procurement Policy (Denise was in my learning pod at the Summit in Edmonton and she also presented on the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy) as well as Steve Shallhorn, who presented on the work of the Toronto Community Benefits Network.

The event was well attended and attendees represented perspectives of people with the lived experience of poverty, government, business, community organizations, etc.

From this event, the HPRT convened what is today an active, cross-sector, and engaged Halton Community Benefits Network. Our Network’s mandate is to engage, educate, and accelerate the activation of Halton community stakeholders to explore and implement social procurement policies and community benefits agreements for the purpose of generating significant social impact through procurement and infrastructure spends.

For this year’s Cities Reducing Poverty Summit: When Business is Engaged, members of our Community Benefits Network of Halton, along with Colette Murphy from Atkinson, Denise Andrea Campbell from the City of Toronto, and Rose Marie Powell from the Toronto Community Benefits Network, collaborated on a workshop titled “Reversing Fortunes: Cities Building Community Wealth. We each talked about our respective experiences in moving community benefits agreements and social procurement policies forward and had a valuable discussion with our audience afterwards.

Halton Poverty Roundtable Fosters Community Benefits in Action!

Halton Poverty Roundtable Fosters Community Benefits in Action!

A New Made in Halton Initiative for Economic & Social Opportunity April 17, 2017

Recognizing how other economic regions have successfully adopted business practices, which have demonstrated the potential to make tax dollars work better and helped create prosperous communities; the Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT) has convened a multi-sectoral collaborative network for Halton Region, working together to foster awareness and action in the development of Community Benefits Agreements.

Newly formed, the Halton Community Benefits Network is engaged in research and consultation with the initial goal of educating and engaging community partners to adopt Community Benefits Agreements, practices that can lead to changing the way our economic region does business and thus benefit its citizens with fuller employment opportunities and inclusive social well-being.

In a nutshell, as a concept, Community Benefits Agreements are negotiated between public and private sector organizations in endeavors such as public procurement of goods and services, or the development of infrastructure projects – a way to leverage money that governments have already committed to spend in order to gain benefits for communities. In this process, these agreements also engage input from a coalition of community organizations and citizen groups, which include chambers of commerce, labour unions, non-profit social service agencies and faith based groups.

In Canada and globally, such initiatives have been adopted by public sector institutions and it has shown to create opportunities, lead to new or better jobs, apprenticeships, retraining for skills in demand, growth for local businesses – and ultimately, to advance social good and help reduce poverty.

Beginning in 2017, the Halton Community Benefits Network will offer a range of public and in-house education opportunities, social media conversation, on-line resources and a tool kit to “Foster Community Benefits in Action!” Our goal is to build awareness within a community circle comprised offour main segments:

Anchor Institutions – includes municipal governments, hospitals and public services

Business Vendors – includes providers of goods and services to the anchors

Connector Organizations – includes non-profits, chambers of commerce and professional associations

Beneficiary Groups – includes the unemployed, youth at risk, newcomers, and low-income citizens

The Halton Community Benefits Network will act as a catalyst for change with an aim to move forward, to gain more market experience in the region, providing a platform to gain more market experience by encouraging organizations to launch Community Benefits Agreements in the Halton Region for sustainable economic & social opportunity for everyone.

information on how to Foster Community Benefits in Action as an advantage to your organization, association or community group; or to arrange for an education session, please contact:

Leena Sharma Seth, Director, Community Engagement Halton Community Benefits Network
Halton Poverty Roundtable Tel: 905-635-3131 ext. 303 Email: info@haltoncommunitybenefits.com

For a current PDF download of this One Page Communications document, please click here