Shift Government Program: Mayor’s office leads project to find solutions to complex problems

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A program led by the mayor’s office is now working with a number of organizations to develop short- and long-term solutions to complex problems, including housing and the opioid crisis.
Called the Shift Government Project, the program was adopted as part of the City’s 2019 budget.
“I believe the mayor’s job is often about bringing the community together to address problems and pursue opportunities, Mayor Jeff Lehman is quoted saying. “The municipality can’t do everything by itself, but we can work with organizations in the community to support great ideas that address some of the biggest challenges facing our city.”
Those “great ideas” the City is working on with organizations include pilot projects called the Connected Core, Impact Collective, Sliding Scale Market, Student/Senior Co-Housing, Health Innovation Week, and Barrie Housing Flooring Community Challenge.
In case those tags leave you scratching your head as to their meaning, here’s a breakdown on what they’re about:
• Connected Core: According to the City, the goal of this program is coordinating existing outreach efforts in the community. The ‘core’ coordinator will be holding de-escalation training as well as Naloxone (used to counter the effects of opioid overdose) training for downtown businesses, and is also working with the Georgian Employment Centre to develop a job bank of casual part-time jobs for marginalized people.
“This Job Bank provides meaningful work for people who are farthest away from job market and helps facilitate relationship building between business owners and marginalized people. Eight downtown businesses have signed up to date including the City of Barrie and Library,” according to the City.
• Impact Collective: Local social enterprises (Redwood Park, Furniture Bank & Furniture Link, and Jeff White Group) have come together to identify and solve existing gaps in the community, as well as offer a network of support for social enterprises in our community.
In July 2019, they launched the Barrie Furniture Bank to collect any used furniture in Barrie to then make it available to families and individuals experiencing poverty, including women and children leaving shelters, people transitioning from homelessness, and newcomers and refugees to Canada.
• Sliding Scale Market: The City says Shift Government is working on a collaboration between Barrie Housing and the private sector to bring a sliding scale (pay what you can) market for certain Barrie Housing locations. The goal is to set up the market as a social enterprise (all employees would be existing tenants of Barrie Housing).
• Student/Senior Co-housing: The goal of this strategy is to match seniors living in their home with international and nursing students to share accommodations. The seniors would provide lodging to students, and in return students would help with daily needs such as medication, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, meal prep, company. The program is based on a pilot in Toronto through University of Toronto and the National Institute for the Care of Elderly.
• Health Innovation Week: Building on the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy, a session aimed at working with diverse members of our community to co-design new approaches to addressing the opioid crisis as well as addictions prevention in Barrie was held in the spring.
• Barrie Housing Flooring Community Challenge: Barrie Housing will be launching a community challenge to help replace aged flooring in existing units. The challenge will look for community members to volunteer their time and skills to this project.
To learn more about Shift Government, visit