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Published on Thursday, October 26, 2017

OCF Vital Signs & Solutions Report

Report from OCF still tells tale of two Oakvilles

OCF Vital Signs & Solutions Report
Photo by Marta Marychuk
The Oakville Community Foundation released its report Belonging in a Community of Contrasts at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts Wednesday, Oct. 25. The presentation included performances from local arts organizations, ArtHouse for Children and Youth, Oakville Chamber Orchestra, the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton Steel Pan Drummers and the Oakville Children’s Choir, pictured here
By Marta Marychuk, Oakville Beaver

While Oakville is one of the most affluent communities in Canada, it is also home to some of the poorest, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Oakville Community Foundation (OCF).

“This report tells the story of two Oakvilles,” said Joanne Battaglia, associate vice president partnerships and community impact for FirstOntario Credit Union, the report’s title sponsor. “There are the haves and there are the have-nots,” she added.

The report, entitled Belonging in a Community of Contrasts, was presented at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts Wednesday night, Oct. 25.

Oakville is home to 48 per cent of the lowest income earners in Halton Region and 7.6 per cent of Halton residents live below the lowest income measure ($34,742), added Oakville Mayor Rob Burton — who made introductory remarks.

Burton, who issued a call to action said: “If we can’t lift up everyone in our community, nobody can. We want to make sure nobody is left behind.”

The mean household income in Oakville is $149,945, according to the Town of Oakville’s Environics Analytic Report (2016).

And yet, 12.4 per cent of Oakville children, under 18 years, were living in poverty in 2016, based on data from Statistics Canada.

“Oakville is home to the poorest and the richest,” said Terry Erb, director of marketing, sales and service at Ford of Canada, another sponsor of the 2107 report.

“I still find this shocking,” Erb said.

In 2015, the foundation’s Vital Signs report served as a catalyst for the OCF’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2018: Building More Effective Philanthropy.

And the foundation’s 2016 update report, Building Foundations across Oakville, the OCF presented emerging data about the issues identified in its report Vital Signs 2015.

This newest report creates solutions and includes results and insights gained from the community Sense of Belonging Survey conducted in the spring of this year. The survey includes responses from 1,200 people.

The report also includes highlights of the Belonging Matters survey OCF conducted with the YMCA of Oakville and Town of Oakville — to research residents’ sense of inclusion and belonging.

People surveyed indicated feeling welcome at libraries, community centres, parks, businesses, shops, restaurants and in their neighbourhood — but not overwhelmingly. And specifically, people expressed issues around belonging based on ableness, mental health, accessibility and special needs.

Housing and food remain challenges for those struggling financially. For example, two-thirds of low-income Halton residents spend more than 50 per cent of household income on shelter. Low-income Halton people spend 25 to 40 per cent of their income on food.

Of note, 18 per cent of youths surveyed over age 15 reported feeling stressed. Of those 12 and older, 12 per cent had consulted a mental-health professional in the past year, five per cent reported being diagnosed with a mood disorder and four per cent reported being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Wendy Rinella, OCF CEO, said people’s feelings about belonging can change and to that end, in 2018, Battaglia said OCF will transition from its research to implementing strategies to address priority issues from the Vital Signs report.

To help people feel more connected to the community, OCF Board Chair Michael Whitcombe announced that the foundation will establish a new pilot project to connect children to their community through arts and heritage programs.

The community-based program, which will be rolled out in January 2018, will connect 22,000 children attending 46 publicly-funded schools in Oakville from kindergarten to Grade 8 to local arts and heritage programs.

Whitcombe said the pilot project would repurpose existing funds and OCF will be seeking new community sponsors to help fund the project.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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