Policies: Municipal Governments

Municipalities control some of the key areas for social development, such as police services, housing, transportation and recreational services. Municipal governments are also in the best position to work directly with community groups and citizens to establish and maintain effective local programs. But Canadian municipalities face the challenge of having limited revenues, strict budgets, and restricted powers of taxation.

Some municipalities are nonetheless making crime prevention through social development a priority.

In early 2004, Toronto made a radical change in its approach to crime, with the adoption of their municipal Crime Prevention Strategy. In response to recent increases in gun violence and youth crime, the mayor of Toronto has made a commitment to balance law enforcement with effective crime prevention by focussing specifically on the many social factors which contribute to insecurity in Toronto.

Toronto's plan includes the creation of both a Mayor's Advisory Panel on Community Safety and a Community Safety Secretariat to ensure the successful co-ordination of a multi-sectoral strategy to tackle the underlying links to crime. Efforts will be directed specifically towards at-risk neighbourhoods, and will focus on guns, gangs, and increasing economic opportunities.

The nearby Municipality of Waterloo also has a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Council to work with residents and local partners to build a safer and stronger community, with less crime and insecurity. The success of the Council has been attributed in large part to its direct collaboration with city officials and municipal leaders.

To help other municipalities take on the challenges of crime prevention through social development, the Canadian Federation of Municipalities has developed a policy statement on community safety and crime prevention, as well as a Primer on Municipal Crime Prevention.

The FCM Primer provides a detailed account of what municipalities can – and should – do to implement effective crime prevention strategies in their communities. It is an excellent resource and guidebook on how to organize a local council, identify local crime challenges, develop and implement an effective action plan, and monitor and evaluate process and impacts.

The Federation is making crime prevention through social development one of its priorities as it pushes the federal government to allocate more money to municipalities.