Learning about the Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative

Submitted by GCWI on March 13, 2013 - 1:27pm
Learning about wellbeing by listening to the people

What is community wellbeing?


Wellbeing, also known as quality of life, involves an array of social, economic and environmental factors.

Quality of life starts with the essentials - food, shelter, and healthcare. But it also involves how we spend our time, how we care for each other, and how we respect the planet. Wellbeing means being safe, healthy, and feeling connected to the people and places around you. It’s about the quality of our neighbourhoods, parks and the natural environment. It means being able to express ourselves fully and participate in the activities that we love. It’s also about the health of our communities and relationships. In essence, wellbeing boils down to what matters in life.

Quality of life can be measured by looking at a variety of factors – such as the gap between rich and poor, life expectancy, the quality of jobs and housing, quality of air and greenhouse gas emissions, and so on.


What is the Community Wellbeing Initiative (CWI)?

The Community Wellbeing Initiative (CWI) is a community project that has the goal of giving each person in Guelph the best possible quality of life. The initiative will define a vision for the future and include a set of approaches to improve quality of life.

The CWI will be a resource for the entire community. It will provide direction to leaders, decision makers, and community groups for how we can make wellbeing a key consideration when making decisions and planning for the future. It will also be a source for inspiring new projects, actions, and partnerships in the community to improve quality of life in Guelph. The City of Guelph is taking an innovative, community-based approach to the project, meaning that the active participation of the community will play a very important role in the development of the plan and how the community can undertake improving wellbeing.


What are the objectives of the Community Wellbeing Initiative?

The key objective of this project is to improve the wellbeing of Guelph residents, neighbourhoods and the city as a whole.

The wellbeing initiative will also provide a foundation for measuring the health and prosperity of the community - whether it is improving, declining, or staying the same – and which areas may need improvement. Decision makers can then use this information to make choices that promote quality of life and respond to the needs of the community.

 By focusing on a meaningful community conversation, the CWI will ensure residents and stakeholders recognize the importance of their contributions to the future vitality of Guelph. The CWI will also enable residents and stakeholders to define for themselves what it means to be ‘well’.


What are the benefits of having a Community Wellbeing Initiative?

This project provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for community members to come together and develop a shared vision, which can inspire and affect positive change in the community.

The Community Wellbeing Initiative will break down barriers within the community and government by emphasizing collaboration and common ground. This will encourage a new approach to delivering local services that is centred on partnerships with citizens, private, public and not-for-profit sector organizations. 


In summary, the main benefits of the Community Wellbeing Initiative are:

·         Improve our community’s wellbeing;

·         Encourage more interaction and sharing of ideas between community members and government;

·         Empower people and community groups to take action where it is most needed;

·         Improve government’s understanding of the community’s values, needs, and desires for the future;

·         Make it easier (and more fun!) than ever before for community members to participate in decisions that affect them; and

·         Include social and cultural factors when making decisions and allocating resources.


What is the Canadian Index of Wellbeing?


The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is a nationally accepted tool for measuring quality of life in a community. It measures wellbeing overall, and in eight specific categories.

The CIW emerged out of dissatisfaction with approaches to measuring progress that focus primarily on economic vitality, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but do not take into account broader social and cultural factors that are equally important to Canadians. The CIW network (www.ciw.ca) also produces detailed reports for each of the important categories of wellbeing. They show us where we're making progress, where we're falling behind, and what we can do – both as a society and as individuals – to improve the situation.

In partnership with the Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing will be leading the Community Wellbeing Survey that will tell us how residents of Guelph are really doing and how we might respond to enhance resident and community wellbeing.


Who is leading the development of the Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative? Who are the other players involved?

The Community Wellbeing Initiative (CWI) is being led by the City of Guelph and supported by multiple partners throughout the community. It is a component of the Social Services Work Plan, developed under Guelph City Council’s direction.

The need for this process is championed by Mayor Farbridge and has been identified through dozens of discussions with community leaders, service providers, front-line staff, consumers and their advocates, the experiences of other municipalities, and Guelph’s own experience.

Every person in Guelph is a part of one or more of the target audiences for participation - including residents, council and staff, community groups, community institutions, business, other relevant sectors, members of the public, and visitors.

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This is a fabulous initiative- thanks for sharing and allowing us to join in with this dialogue. Interested to see how the process unfolds...