On October 8, Halton Region hosted the Halton Drug Strategy Community Forum to begin the process of developing a comprehensive, community-driven drug strategy. Over 150 participants from more than 30 sectors brought their expertise and passion to the day to identify top priorities for Halton, and discuss possible solutions to address the issue of substance use in our region.
The process started approximately a year ago after I attended a meeting hosted by MPP Kevin Flynn,which brought together concerned citizens and service providers to talk about the Province’s Mental Health report and discuss how to address substance use at the local level. At that meeting there was key interest in working with key partners in our region to coordinate a results driven “made in Halton” strategy.
Shortly thereafter, a steering committee formed with representation from Halton Region, four key stakeholders (Mississauga Halton LHIN, POSSE Project, Adapt Halton, Halton Regional Police Service), and two individuals with lived experience. The committee began the process discussing initial ideas for a Halton strategy and soon started planning a community forum.
The day was a tremendous success. In addition to the facilitated strategic planning portion, which encompassed the majority of the day, there were also presentations about:
- the programs and services available in Halton and collaborative efforts already taking place
- recent local statistics related to substance use
- results from the Halton Substance Use Programs and Services Survey
- lessons learned from the manager for the Wellington-Guelph Drug Strategy based on their experience of implementing their strategy
But it was the four diverse personal stories interspersed throughout the day that reminded everyone in the room why a drug strategy is important. The stories ranged from personal struggles with addiction and mental health to a parent’s perspective of losing a child to an accidental overdose. Each story was powerful and provided inspiration to this collaborative process.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the forum. The passion and dedication of the individuals and the organizations represented prove once again that Halton Region is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. We are leaders in providing a high quality of life to our residents, and with the expert agencies and community members who came together today, I am confident the result will be a meaningful community based and driven drug strategy that will build on the great work already taking place across Halton Region.
Presentations, photos and more information from the forum can be found at www.halton.ca/drugstrategy. A summary of the day’s events will also be posted in the near future.
As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”