The Portage Citizen —
Portage la Prairie took a step forward May 24 to improving community safety and well-being with the announcement it has adopted an improved community mobilization model.
Reeling after the Statistics Canada announcement over a year ago the Crime Severity Index (CSI) again portrayed Portage la Prairie nationally as a less than safe community, former City Manager Jean-Marc Nadeau initiated steps to bring a prairie-born initiative used in three other Manitoba communities and across Canada to help in Portage.
Dr. Chad Nilson, a multi-sectoral collaboration specialist, developed a risk-driven collaborative intervention program called a hub with the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies University of Saskatchewan as a working model for a social system deemed “broken” in Prince Albert, SK. Brandon, Swan River and Thompson have established HUB models within their communities after publicly acknowledging their communities needed a better way to deal with poverty, crime, drug issues and social crisis of many descriptions.
“The Portage la Prairie Hub is an opportunity for human service professionals to work upstream helping families and individuals before harm occurs rather than waiting until crisis happens,” Nilson said. “This is a commitment to start detecting risk and deploying interventions that will reduce those risks before crisis happens. This marks a fundamental shift in the way that business is delivered in human service professionalism.” Nilson added the adoption of the hub model into a community is “a paradigm shift” in the delivery of what he calls “human services”.
The Portage la Prairie Hub table partners are the human services that will play the essential role in the newly formed hub. These partners are Portage school division, Child and Family Services – Central, Canadian Mental Health Association, Probation, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Manitoba Housing, Youth for Christ, Southern Health Support Services – Mental Health, RCMP and the Community Connections Resource Centre.
Portage Community Revitalization Corporation Executive Director Victoria Espey, will chair the hub committee and will work closest with steering committee members Portage la Prairie School Division representative Rochelle Rands and RCMP Const. Sean O’Keefe.
“Portage faces some social challenges,” Portage la Prairie Mayor Irvine Ferris said following the hub announcement. “I think everyone is aware Portage has a higher than average provincial poverty rate, we have a number of citizens and families that are vulnerable in our community — we recognize that. We also recognize the earlier the intervention the better in terms of preventing a crisis. This model has been very successful in Brandon and we view it as a very smart investment in the community of Portage la Prairie.
“Don’t expect things to change overnight. This is a long-term plan which requires a lot of ongoing work,” the mayor said. “Based upon the success we have seen in other communities we have great expectations for this. It will meet a lot of the needs we have here.”
“Across the country, there are close to 90 hubs and they all work with the same discipline, the same fidelity and the same structure,” Nilson said. “The purpose of that is to protect privacy while also ultimately saving lives and improving community safety and well-being. I help communities across Canada develop and train to become a hub. Portage la Prairie did its homework to identify a hub would meet the needs of Portage la Prairie and that’s where we are today,” Nilson said.
The hub held its first meeting prior to its official rollout. On its one-year anniversary, it will hold another public meeting to discuss its successes and give a measure of how it has made an impact in Portage la Prairie.