Partnering for a better community: Living in York Region – A Community Indicators Project / En partenariat pour une meilleure communauté: Vivre dans la Région de York – Un projet d’indicateurs communautaires

By Michael Johnny (ResearchImpact York)
York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit is partnered in a three-year project to support the development of healthy communities in York Region.
L’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York est engagée dans un projet en partenariat de trois ans visant à soutenir le développement de communautés en santé dans la Région de York.
The Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York is partnering on a project, Living in York Region, to support community development in York Region that links data, research and residents’ experiences to identify significant trends, and assigns ‘grades’ in areas critical to quality of life. The KMb Unit is pleased to be working with the project lead, the York Region Community Foundation.

Chris Traber of reported in his article on this project in late November,  “As York Region continues to grow in size and diversity, the project represents a joint interest in and commitment to working with others to develop a reliable, made-in-York Region understanding of the well-being of residents and communities”. Read the full article here.
The project has adopted a framework that numerous community foundations across Canada have used called Vital Signs. Vital Signs is an annual community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our cities. Vital Signs is based on a project of the Toronto Community Foundation and is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada. The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation provided critical support for the national expansion of the Vital Signs program.

This is a three-year project that has been funded by an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. The initiative will focus on key indicators, including arts and culture, learning, health and wellness, environment, transportation, the gap between rich and poor, safety, housing, work, belonging and leadership and the economy.
For the KMb Unit, and its commitment to provide program support in York Region, the fit was clear as the Vital Signs project is a research endeavour that can benefit from the support and input of the university. Participating in a project that can help systematically connect York research and expertise within diverse thematic areas, all merging to support the well-being of residents, neighbourhoods and communities, exactly aligned with the strategic objectives and practical application of knowledge mobilization. Already, this project has engaged two graduate students and one faculty member (with others expressing interest in future engagement).
While these quantitative outcomes are nice, it is the work that the students are doing and the leadership and expertise that York’s faculty are providing that will help build the connections to achieve the project’s objectives, and ultimately its vision- “Our priority is to make sure our communities are healthy and thriving.” It’s great to see research and researchers active in this process, sharing their expertise and access to data.
For me, this project embodies what knowledge mobilization is all about.