Message from the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

I have been trying to make community hubs happen for over 20 years — as a parent activist, school trustee, MPP, cabinet minister and eventually as Premier. I’m passionate about them because I have seen the difference they can make in people’s lives and in communities. Community hubs are an innovative and practical means of delivering important services in an efficient, community-led way. And I know from experience that developing them can be challenging. It shouldn’t be. That is why, as Premier, I decided it was time to look at the way the Province supports the development of community hubs and make some improvements. It is now two years since I appointed the Community Hubs Advisory Group and the Special Advisor on Community Hubs. I hope you are as excited as I am about all the great progress that is being made.

When we began this initiative, we knew local knowledge would be essential to setting up and operating thriving community hubs, so we asked you to share your experiences and ideas. The response was incredible. Your suggestions on how the provincial government could break down barriers and support local champions led the Advisory Group to make 27 recommendations, all of which we enthusiastically adopted and got to work implementing.

This report summarizes the progress made in year two of our Community Hubs Initiative. And what a year it has been! When I attended the Community Hubs Summit this past May, you could feel the energy in the room. There was a palpable sense that we are well on our way to accomplishing great things for people across Ontario.

I was moved by the stories of our community workers and leaders, people who are striving to make a difference in the lives of their neighbours. It is to their credit that we can all see a promising future for the Community Hubs Initiative in Ontario. Our government will continue to be guided by the wisdom and passion of these frontline champions — people who work tirelessly to help their fellow citizens. Thank you for all that you do.

I would also like to thank Karen Pitre and the members of our Advisory Group for their extraordinary leadership on this initiative.

I think community hubs represent the best of what we can do when we work together to tackle the challenges on our doorstep. They unite us in our belief that strong communities are building a fairer, better Ontario. Whether it is an Indigenous Friendship Centre in Northwest Ontario or a surplus school in downtown Toronto that has been repurposed for community use, community hubs bring us together to make a positive difference in the lives of others. At the end of the day, that is what matters most. It is why I will always support the local champions working to make community hubs happen. I know I can count on you to keep up the great work. You can count on me to always have your back.


Premier Kathleen Wynne

Message from the Minister of Infrastructure

As someone who has had the honour of serving at both the municipal and provincial levels of government, I have seen first-hand the extraordinary benefits that community hubs can bring. I am committed to the Premier’s mission to find ways for the Province to break down barriers to enable community hubs.

I continue to be inspired by so many stories of how community hubs across Ontario are using innovative new methods for delivering important services. In my home town, the Carlington Community Health Hub is a great example. It is a successful partnership between the Carlington Community Health Centre and Ottawa Community Housing. The collaboration answers the needs of the community by delivering affordable housing for seniors, primary medical care and support services all under one roof.

I believe we can all be encouraged by the achievements highlighted in the Two-Year Progress Report. The Government of Ontario is committed to supporting the development of community hubs, and we are demonstrating it with significant measures such as the Resource Network and the Surplus Property Transition Initiative. The 2017 Ontario Community Hubs Summit was an extraordinary event where stakeholders were able to develop a deeper understanding about community hubs in Ontario as we shared innovative ideas and resources.

I would like to thank Karen Pitre, the Special Advisor to the Premier, and the members of the Community Hubs Advisory Group for their determination and efforts over the past two years to advance the community hubs Initiative. I would also like to thank our volunteers and partners – all of whom have made important contributions to this work. Their insights, coupled with their commitment to listening to local input, have been key to the successes we have seen so far.

The government’s role is to support this incredible work of community builders and to help remove any barriers they may face in the development of community hubs. We have only just begun and there is already a great deal of exciting work happening across the province. We all have much to learn, much to build and barriers still to break down. We can all be excited by the power of community hubs to strengthen our communities.

Across the province, Ontarians are working on great ideas and we are so pleased that countless dedicated people are ready to roll up their sleeves and build better communities.


Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure

Message from the Special Advisor

What a journey we have taken together.

It began more than two years ago when the Premier asked me to be the Special Advisor on Community Hubs. The mission was to determine what the government needs to do to strengthen existing community hubs and enable those in development. Community hubs have existed for decades and they give people a form of one-window access for important services – integrated, coordinated and supported by a network of committed and dedicated partners. They are an innovative means of making better use of public spaces for the benefit of us all.

Our Advisory Group work started with listening and learning over an intensive 90 days in 2015. We heard what works well and what does not based on the collective wisdom of the people on the front lines of service delivery in community hubs across the province.

The result was the August 2015 release of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan, which included 27 recommendations on how the Province could make it easier to develop and operate community hubs. The Government of Ontario has listened, accepted the recommendations and is taking action.

I am thrilled to see the progress we are making together and invite you to read this report to learn about the tangible actions that were taken by the Province in year two of this remarkable journey.

I would like to thank Premier Kathleen Wynne for her leadership and commitment, Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli, who has been supporting local champions throughout his career, and the entire Cabinet who have enthusiastically embraced this initiative.

Thank you also to the members of the Community Hubs Advisory Group, who are still dedicated to this work, more than two years later.

A special note of appreciation to the dedicated group of people who have been contributing to the development of the Community Hubs Resource Network and contributed to the success of the Community Hubs Summit.

The most important tribute must go to the local champions and great organizations who have been guiding this work, and making community hubs happen. We have made important steps along our journey, and I believe we are on the right path.


Karen Pitre

Executive summary

Community hubs have sprung up organically throughout Ontario for decades and are a common-sense approach for effectively delivering important services. The Province recognizes that community hubs need to be promoted, supported and provided with a framework to grow.

While community hubs are local initiatives, driven by local needs and powered by local leadership, the Government of Ontario recognizes that it has an important role to play. That is why Premier Kathleen Wynne launched the Community Hubs Initiative in 2015, seeking to support community hubs and break down barriers that have limited their establishment and growth, all with the aim of continuing to build our communities.

Over a period of 90 days, the Community Hubs Advisory Group heard from more than 350 organizations across Ontario and in August 2015 released Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan, which included 27 recommendations – all of which the government accepted.

This is the second annual progress report and the Province is moving forward with important initiatives. Crucial work was done throughout the year with successes on several fronts, three of which will be highlighted.

In May 2017, the Ontario Community Hubs Summit brought together hundreds of people and organizations from across the province to share ideas and learn from both expert speakers and each other about best practices in community hub development and integrated service delivery.

Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli launched a valuable new tool, the Community Hubs Resource Network, an accessible, essential resource for those interested in community hub development.

The Government of Ontario also introduced an important measure to facilitate the development of community hubs. The Surplus Property Transition Initiative is designed to provide more time for communities to develop business plans and complete due diligence to determine the viability of acquiring surplus provincial, school board or hospital properties.

In addition, work continues on all 27 recommendations outlined in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. Key milestones in addressing the recommendations are highlighted in the appendix of this report.

While the initiative is ongoing, the Province has made significant progress in supporting Ontario’s community hubs.

Listening and learning together

2017 Ontario Community Hubs Summit

The first three days in May 2017 were a landmark time for community hubs in Ontario. More than 750 people and organizations gathered at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto (itself a shining example of the potential and power of community hubs) for the first-ever Ontario Community Hubs Summit.

The Summit brought together community, public and private sector leaders from across the province, the country and internationally. It provided the opportunity for a wide-ranging, intensive and enlightening exchange of ideas, best practices and practical advice for planning, building and sustaining successful community hubs.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was in attendance, along with Minister Bob Chiarelli and a host of Cabinet Ministers, including the Attorney General, the Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care, Education, Children and Youth Services, Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Community and Social Services, as well as the Secretary of Cabinet, and several Deputy Ministers.

Hubs only happen when people like you unite behind a common purpose. So, thank you all for uniting behind the goal of building stronger supports for the people of your communities.

Premier Kathleen Wynne

In a tangible demonstration of the Province’s commitment to the development and support of hubs, two key initiatives were announced: the online Resource Network and the Surplus Property Transition Initiative.

Attendees included community hub operators, service providers, not-for-profit organizations, municipal and provincial government representatives, and Indigenous and Francophone community representatives, as well as many other partners from a broad range of sectors.

The Summit had a full agenda, with dozens of sessions exploring a range of issues related to the use of public spaces for integrated service delivery.

Conference-goers were inspired by a keynote speech from Tony Armstrong, the CEO of Locality, a UK organization which describes itself as “the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations, working together to help neighbourhoods thrive.” Although based in London, Locality is all about supporting grassroots, local leadership and in the words of its mandate to “inspire local communities to change and improve”.

Mary Wiens led an engaging discussion with Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL hockey player and children’s mental health issues advocate, and Steve Orsini, Secretary of the Cabinet, to highlight the challenges and importance of breaking down silos to ensure services are delivered in a way that meets the needs of those who require support.

During this innovative and enlightening exchange of ideas, Sheldon Kennedy shared his knowledge in bringing governments, public and private sector partners together to influence policy change. Secretary Orsini talked about some of the transformative efforts underway within the Ontario Public Service to deliver integrated services that meet the needs of people in their communities.

Summit sessions covered both big-picture matters, such as the concept and importance of community hubs, as well as practical advice on how to start and manage them. It was an invaluable learning experience for community-based organizations and individuals.

Among the sessions:

  • Stories from the Field — experiences and lessons from long-established hubs across Ontario
  • Breaking Down Planning Silos — how to bring different local sectors together to work collaboratively
  • Community Hubs within operating schools — two sessions that explored the challenges and opportunities of developing community hubs within a school setting
  • Provincial Transfer Payment Modernization — an opportunity to learn about changes that are underway in provincial funding and what they mean for local agencies
  • Capital Financing — expert advice on the tools and strategies for getting the capital that community hubs need
  • Working and Connecting across Government Ministries — a conversation about what is happening across provincial government ministries to strengthen integrated service delivery at the local level

The sessions produced honest discussions about where Ontario is making progress and where improvements need to be made. Here are some of the themes that emerged.

Community engagement and partnership building

In the development of community hubs, community members, local champions and activists must engage each other to share best practices and community insights in order to build strong relationships based on a foundation of trust.

Government action

The provincial government needs to improve inter-ministerial communication, tackle barriers such as inefficient transfer payment methods, and re-evaluate the process through which funding is provided to organizations developing community hubs.

Improving tools

Enhance and standardize the tools used to develop and maintain operations of community hubs such as impact measurement methods, data and information sharing, sustainability measures and creating service integration.

On the third day of the Summit, attendees had an opportunity to put their lessons to practical use. There was an intensive and immersive ‘boot camp’ on community hub development, in which participants were tasked with applying their new knowledge to their own circumstances under the guidance of experts.

Work is underway to make tools and resources available through the Resource Network and it will be updated on a regular basis as additional resources are developed.

We received positive feedback from many of the Summit attendees.

The 2017 Ontario Community Hubs Summit was a success and there was much sharing of insights, thoughts and experiences. We were able to learn from and connect with others who are planning and developing community hubs in Ontario.

Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

The Community Hubs Summit was a demonstration of the Government of Ontario’s support for community hubs. It also provided an opportunity to demonstrate the progress that is being made in implementing the recommendations from Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. Community organizers were able to receive and give important feedback on next steps, and there were many important opportunities for networking and learning from each other.

The achievements of the 2017 Ontario Community Hubs Summit will help shape and inform future work on this important initiative.

Building together

Community Hubs Resource Network

The Province has heard that an open channel is needed to exchange information so that communities can share advice and have access to practical tools and essential resources, as well as support on how to use them. Communities and organizations across Ontario have tremendous drive, commitment and passion to help their neighbours. Communities have expressed that they often lack the resources, information and essential tools needed to build community hubs.

Collectively, communities have advised that they need an easily-accessible source for these important elements. Their voices have been heard.

On May 1, 2017, Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli, launched the Community Hubs Resource Network.

…one of our priorities is to provide you, communities, with the tools that you have told us you need, to create vibrant and sustainable community hubs to improve the everyday lives of Ontarians.

Bob Chiarelli

As a result, the Community Hubs Resource Network is designed to be an online handbook — easily accessible to all, with understandable advice and practical tools. It is designed to support stakeholders across the province at all stages of community hub development. is an organic site, where great ideas can be shared to support complete community planning, as well as information and training on numerous topics, including:

  • partnership development
  • operation of financially sustainable hubs
  • governance models and evaluation
  • outcomes measurement

Designing the Resource Network has been a community driven process, informed by input and feedback from community partners and stakeholders from across the broader public sector. It is crucial for community partners to be able to connect both with their peers and with experts. There is also a need for better access to high quality, pertinent data, advice on how to interpret it, and a tool for applying it to community planning. Reflecting all this input, was launched with the following core elements:

  • Connections — Through, members can connect with others who are also engaged in community hub planning, both across the province and in their communities. Users are encouraged to join the Resource Network by completing a brief profile so they can connect with experts, peers, and local champions. Once registered, users can search for others by geography or by experience with community hub development.
  • Tools & Resources — The Resource Network offers curated and vetted content to those stakeholders across the province engaged in the planning, building, or operations of a community hub. The content on will continue to grow and evolve over time, always remaining responsive to local input. New resources will be added based on the expressed needs of users and the communities they serve. The Province is looking to community hubs and organizations to provide input and supply content to help others in various stages of community hub development.
  • Data & Mapping — The Resource Network uses powerful technology to help local partners access and interpret useful data. Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and other data analysis tools will allow community groups to create vivid visual depictions of population demographics, the locations of services and community hubs, and other information at a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood level. The Resource Network also includes data and information about surplus properties from the Province’s General Real Estate Portfolio. This level of detail can help clearly identify needs and service gaps, making the early planning of community hubs more targeted and efficient. The datasets and features on the mapper are continuously updated to provide a thorough, comprehensive experience.

Learn more about the Community Hubs Mapper and access webinars helpful for how to use the tool.

This is only the beginning for, as the intention is for the site to continue to mature and grow, with these guiding priorities:

  • Building the Network — To be successful it must maintain an active and engaged network. The focus will be to continue growing the membership of the Resource Network to facilitate connections across the province.
  • Engaging with Members — exists for its members. The goal is to ensure that those interested in community hubs use, engage with and help improve the Resource Network. is committed to providing the tools and services that are innovative and relevant. Capacity development webinars and teleconferences on topics such as the GIS mapping tool have already been staged. Regular engagement activities will continue to be offered in order to help users better understand the site and all its features, as well as providing opportunities for local networking.
  • Introducing New Content and Functionality — To continue to offer both Resource Network members and the broader community the tools and resources they need, the content of the Resource Network will be enhanced and updated regularly, supplied by community members and supported by the Province. The updates will be guided by ideas, needs and feedback from users.

We encourage you to visit the website and let us know if it meets your needs and how we can contribute to improve the Resource Network to build local capacity.

Creating opportunities together

Surplus Property Transition Initiative

We heard that one of the biggest challenges for local champions and organizations is finding the right space to house a community hub. Opportunities often arise when public properties become available for sale. Properties are sometimes sold without sufficient time or incentives for proper planning or consultation about the ways properties can be used to meet local needs. Local champions and organizations need enough time to develop a viable plan to use the property to serve community needs.

Announced on May 1, 2017 and formally launched on June 29, 2017, the Surplus Property Transition Initiative (SPTI) gives the proponents of prospective community hubs an essential asset: time. With their limited resources, local champions and organizations often have not been able to move quickly enough to pull together a proposal to acquire and repurpose a surplus public property, such as a school or hospital. That is now changing.

The purpose of this initiative is to support communities that require more time to develop a comprehensive business plan that reflects community needs, and to establish partnerships for the successful transition of surplus public properties to meet these needs. For successful applicants, the initiative will help a current owner to continue to hold the property in public ownership for up to 18 months and allow interested community organizations more time to find supporting organizations, complete their business plan and secure the public or private funding to turn the site into a community hub. The initiative may also provide funding to help cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs incurred by the current property owner, if applicable.

This new initiative is another tool that is critical to supporting the community hubs movement in Ontario. Having sufficient time and resources is critical to their success.

Karen Pitre

Eligible organizations include municipal governments and broader public sector organizations such as consolidated municipal service managers, district social service administration boards, registered charities, and not-for-profit corporations, as well as Indigenous communities and organizations. Eligible properties include those owned by the Government of Ontario, a school board, or a public hospital.

The willingness of the current property owner to participate in this initiative is a requirement for the formal proposal to be considered. In some cases where the current owner may be uncertain about participation, eligible proponents can still submit an initial notice of interest and the Province would work with proponents and supporting organizations to facilitate owner participation. However, community groups are encouraged to find local solutions.

Information on the criteria and how to apply can be found on the Community Hubs website. Applications close on October 16, 2017.

The Surplus Property Transition Initiative is a ground-breaking measure that will make it easier to keep surplus public properties in public hands, allowing them to be transformed into new community assets that can respond to the local needs of individuals, families and communities at large. This initiative will open new possibilities for organizations to share facilities, or “co-locate”, streamlining the delivery of services while also building productive partnerships among government, broader public service partners, local service organizations and the private sector. In addition, this initiative will provide key lessons and inform provincial policy and increased collaboration between ministries and stakeholders.

The Surplus Property Transition Initiative and the other elements of the Community Hubs Initiative offer benefits that will resonate through many sectors. They promote broader provincial interests and priorities such as housing, children’s services, seniors’ housing and healthcare hubs across Ontario. These initiatives are investments that will pay off for Ontarians in multifaceted ways for years to come.

Community Hubs spotlight

Bloor-Dufferin Redevelopment

Since 2015, the Province has actively brought together municipal and community partners, including the City of Toronto, Toronto Lands Corporation, Toronto District School Board, elected officials and local organizations, to work towards a plan for the Bloor-Dufferin Redevelopment Site that meets the community’s needs.

In 2016, the Province worked with these partners to secure up to 30,000 square feet of space on the site that will be used for community space and a licensed child care centre. The Province also jointly supported a facilitation process with the City of Toronto over spring 2017 that brought together a “Visioning Group” of local non-profit organizations who consulted with the broader community and developed a shared vision for the community hub. The Province will continue to work with all partners as the land use planning process and broader redevelopment moves forward to ensure the successful creation of the hub.

Limoges Health Hub

Ontario is supporting the establishment of a new satellite community health services centre “Centre de Santé Communautaire de L’Estrie” that will improve health care services for the growing number of residents (many of whom are French language residents) in Limoges and surrounding communities. The satellite office will be housed in the Limoges Health Hub and will offer multiple health services such as a dental office, pharmacy, family doctors and a host of specialists. The community hub is a collaborative project between local and private sector partners as well as the Nation Municipality, driven by a group of volunteers. The satellite office of the Centre de Santé Communautaire de L’Estrie (CSCE) will help patients by providing more integrated services closer to home so that residents will not have to travel to other communities to receive vital care. The new CSCE satellite office will focus on preventative health care, health promotion, chronic diseases, mental health, and diabetes education, with services to be provided in both French and English, to better meet the needs of people in this region. Thanks to the commitment and generosity of all stakeholders, the hub is near completion and various service offerings are scheduled to open in fall 2017. The Health Hub will result in the creation of 51 new jobs and promote positive growth in the community.

Major Ballachey Neighbourhood Hub

In 2016, the “Major B. Hub” was launched by the Grand Erie District School Board in partnership with the City of Brantford. This community space includes meeting and learning areas, a fully equipped kitchen and accessible washroom. It is located in the lower level of Major Ballachey Public School, sharing a hallway with an Early Learning Centre and the Wish Closet (which provides free clothing and household items). With housing, community-facilitated social services, recreation, educational and wellness programs, the Major B. Hub is uniquely situated to provide supports and resources to a priority neighbourhood, and to enhance the comfort of children and families in a school setting. Program offerings are determined by community need, informed by the local Neighbourhood Association and free to all participants.

Innisfil ideaLab & Library

The Innisfil ideaLAB & Library puts the community first, allowing residents to take ownership of shared spaces and adopt them as their own. This community hub offers traditional library services and innovative tools and technology. Developing unique partnerships and supporting community-led initiatives allows for expanded opportunities and shared experiences. As a community hub, the Innisfil ideaLab & Library builds capacity in the community by not only connecting users to cutting-edge resources, but ultimately to each other.

Pikangikum community hub

In April 2017, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in partnership with Pikangikum Health Authority (PFN) launched a community hub with the support of the Ministry of the Attorney General that builds on the long-term work of the community and government to improve outcomes for Pikangikum’s children, youth and their families. In addition, the Remote Community Employability (RCE) Pilot Project was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth and Right to Play (RTP), which included youth mentorship, training and career planning opportunities.

Muskoka Community Health Hub

The Muskoka Community Health Hub brings together primary care providers, health and wellness practitioners and community and social services to provide access to quality, ‘wrap around’ health care for people in rural and remote communities throughout the District of Muskoka. The Health Hub network includes four permanent sites plus a mobile unit that serves multiple small communities, each staffed with a Nurse Practitioner and Administrative Assistant. The Hubs are founded on a strong partnership involving communities (raising over $4 million), local business (retrofitting and servicing the mobile unit), and municipalities (providing building maintenance and service). Over 1,550 unattached rural patients have been registered with the Hubs to date – many with complex needs. In addition, the Hubs offer non-urgent care to Muskoka’s seasonal residents and visitors in an effort to reduce demands upon Acute Care Emergency Departments.

Community Mobilization North Bay Gateway Hub

The Gateway Hub in North Bay provides the opportunity for highly-structured collaboration with over 20 community agencies from different sectors, including policing services, health, social services, education, Indigenous partners and other community-based organizations. Based on and modelled after the Risk Driven Collaborative process from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the intent of The Gateway Hub is to rapidly mobilize existing community resources to help individuals and families who are most in need, to reduce their level of risk. Acutely elevated risk exists when a number of factors are identified that, if left unattended, would likely result in harm or lead to the situation worsening to the point where a more formal and extended intervention is required. This may include the apprehension of children, criminal charges, or prolonged medical or psychiatric inpatient hospital stays. The Gateway Hub is a great example of intersectoral collaboration and integration at the community level that positively impacts the wellbeing of individuals and families in the North Bay community.

Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario

The Government of Ontario is committed to improving services for young people through the implementation of up to nine integrated youth service hubs. These hubs will be places where young people aged 12-25 can receive one stop walk-in access to mental health and addictions services, as well as other social and employment supports, under one roof. These youth service hubs seek to mitigate prevalent challenges presented to youth and to prevent more serious issues from developing in the future. The Province’s support will help to enhance four existing wellness hubs as well as to support the development of another five new hubs in Ontario.

One such hub, YouthCan IMPACT - Skylark exists in Toronto, meeting the mental health and substance use needs of young people through integrated services offered at a community-based walk-in clinic. This hub involves partnerships between Skylark Children, Youth and Family Services, LOFT Community Services, Family Connections/Sashbear Foundation, Anne Johnston Health Station, Sunnybrook Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and others. YouthCan IMPACT – Skylark is part of a randomized controlled trial to compare clinical, system and cost outcomes of the hub model of service delivery to treatment as usual in outpatient hospital-based psychiatry services.

Community Hubs Education Capital Program

The Ministry of Education has provided school boards with a $50-million capital funding initiative to support the expansion of community hub use in schools which will benefit both students and the local community. This funding will be used to retrofit surplus space in schools into community hub space and to improve the accessibility of schools to allow greater opportunities for use by the community.

For example, the Durham Catholic District School Board has partnered with The Community Innovation Lab in Oshawa to create a community hub aimed at providing entrepreneurship and training programs to at risk youth and women’s groups. The hub space is being created in an unused wing of Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in four vacant classrooms and associated spaces. The Board’s retrofit money, along with capital contributions from the Community Innovation Lab, will create gender neutral washrooms, a separate barrier-free accessible entrance to the hub space, improved connectivity and electrical capacity for technology in the rooms, and upgrades to the rooms to enhance the delivery of programs.

Conclusion: Moving forward together

The second annual Progress Report marks the two-year anniversary of the Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan.

This year, the Government of Ontario collaborated with communities and partners to make tremendous progress in a number of key areas:

  • The Ontario Community Hubs Summit brought together people from across the province gathering thoughtful, wide ranging exchange of ideas.
  • The Community Hubs Resource Network will give local champions new tools to support community initiatives, building their capacity to take on the complex and challenging tasks involved in developing, launching and managing hubs. The Resource Network also provides a new forum to build and strengthen relationships.
  • The Surplus Property Transition Initiative is an important government action to break down barriers that have hindered progress in the development of community hubs across Ontario.

The Government of Ontario is making major strides in supporting and celebrating community hubs but it can only happen with the collaboration of important stakeholders: including community hub operators, municipalities, school boards, libraries, cultural centres, Indigenous organizations, Francophone community representatives, health centres, not-for-profit organizations, and private sector partners across the province.

Moving forward, the Province is reviewing provincial policies related to the use and disposition of public property and community infrastructure to ensure alignment with community-focused objectives. The principles of “co-location” and “multi-use” are being incorporated into the government’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan. This plan will help ensure that Ontario’s infrastructure investments are aligned with the needs of Ontarians to support economic growth and a high standard of living. The plan will also describe the Province’s existing infrastructure portfolio and detail the Province’s plan to strengthen asset management planning and evidence-based decision-making.

In addition, work is underway to consider potential changes to the way in which public properties are divested to ensure a meaningful assessment of opportunities to retain them in the public realm.

The key area of focus for the Community Hubs Advisory Group for this year is to provide advice on the foundational recommendation for a strong provincial leadership model for community hubs. The provincial leadership model is essential if this challenging work is going to continue to generate longer-term benefits to communities throughout the province.

There is much to celebrate, and there is much still to do. Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan will continue to serve as an essential guide for government and communities.

The Government of Ontario is committed to playing its role in pushing forward with this initiative, to remove barriers and support the work of communities across the province. However, community hubs are developed and led be local champions based on the needs of the area.

As such, community advocates are encouraged to continue spearheading the movement. This forum allows communities to share their wisdom with the Province, and to help influence real change.

It is the tireless, passionate work of local community partners who are driving the growth of community hubs, helping to build better lives for their fellow Ontarians. The Government of Ontario seeks only to give them every opportunity to succeed.

Appendix: Making progress together

The Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan continues to be the blueprint for the Community Hubs Initiative. Thoughtful and substantive work has been done across government on all 27 recommendations made in the Action Plan. The Surplus Property Transition Initiative, the Community Hubs Resource Network and the Community Hubs Summit are high-profile examples, but the list of achievements is much longer.

Making better use of public properties

  • As part of the Affordable Housing Lands Program, the Government of Ontario is redeveloping various surplus provincial properties to provide affordable housing. Through partnerships with municipalities, the Province is working to co-locate these housing services with necessary community supports and services.

Removing barriers and enabling hub development

  • Community Justice Centres — The Ministry of the Attorney General is conducting community needs assessments regarding the Community Justice Centre (CJC) model in three communities: Toronto, London and Kenora. CJCs apply an integrated approach to assess and manage low-risk vulnerable offenders. CJCs bring together justice sector stakeholders (e.g., judiciary, police, Crowns, and duty counsel), as well as health and community services (e.g., poverty, homelessness, mental health, and addictions) under one roof.
  • Transfer Payment Administrative Modernization will make it simpler for community organizations to access funding. Led by the Treasury Board Secretariat, it is designed to enable more informed decisions on the allocation of transfer payments, to create administrative efficiencies and to generally streamline administration and reporting requirements for community hub providers.

Building capacity and strengthening local planning

The Strategic Framework and Action Plan recommended the requirement for integrated planning among different jurisdictions (provincial, municipal, school boards, health and agencies) so that the focus is on the effective delivery of services to clients. In response, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has been doing intensive research on the successes and challenges of existing mechanisms for integrated planning — a process that will continue with consultations with stakeholders on how to do things better. In addition, Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, strengthens the Province’s commitment with new regulatory tools available to support integrated planning for client-focused service delivery at the municipal level.

The Province’s Plan to Strengthen Rural and Northern Education has relevance for community hubs across the province. It includes a commitment to review the Ministry of Education’s pupil accommodation review guideline to further promote community engagement regarding school closure decisions. There will be ongoing discussions as to how best to do this and we look forward to hearing from communities across Ontario.

There is also a commitment to improve co-ordination of community infrastructure planning, which involves building upon the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ ongoing integrated local planning work, continuing to deliver on the recommendations in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan and revising the Ministry of Education’s Community Planning and Partnerships Guideline. A more detailed update on the progress of implementing the 27 recommendations can be found below.

Progress toward recommendations in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan

Recommendation: integrated service delivery

  • Establish incentives for agencies/organizations that demonstrate integrated service delivery.
  • Simplify transfer payment accountability requirements to increase funding flexibility and reduce administrative burden for service providers.
  • Work with the Information and Privacy Commissioner to leverage existing work to establish protocols that protect privacy while allowing appropriate sharing of client information.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of current and planned provincial integrated service delivery projects to examine opportunities as they might apply to community hubs.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Treasury Board Secretariat is leading work on Transfer Payment Administration Modernization to enable more informed transfer payment allocation decisions and create administrative efficiencies throughout the transfer payment process. This will streamline administration and reporting requirements for community hub providers.
  • A new common registration system has been launched, which allows all recipients to submit information once, for use by all ministries.
  • The Treasury Board Secretariat worked with line ministries and non-profit sector recipients to develop the Human Services Demonstration Project to test and evaluate streamlined administrative activities related to ongoing service delivery, and identify opportunities to simplify existing tools and templates. Treasury Board Secretariat is also developing Transfer Payment Operational Policy, which will incorporate some of the tested activities and with a focus on creating common and consistent transfer payment administrative processes across the Ontario Public Service.
  • The Ministry of Community and Social Services conducted an evaluation of its Family Violence/Violence Against Women (VAW) Community Hubs Pilot Project. This report determined that while the hub model is considered an effective way of providing service delivery to victims of family violence, positive hub impacts require sustainable resources, networks, and leadership.
  • The Ministry of Community and Social Services is leading a project to reduce administrative burden by 25 per cent for two agencies that provide services to victims of domestic violence. Recommendations from the project will help streamline and simplify administrative requirements for multi-service agencies.
  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services released the Guidance on Information Sharing in Multi-Sectoral Risk Intervention Models document in 2016. The guidance document supports professionals dealing with situations at an acutely elevated risk of harm by outlining a disciplined approach to help assess when and with whom they should share de-identified and/or personal information. The document was developed in consultation with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and local practitioners.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure has been engaging with partners and will continue to work on Ontario government integrated service delivery projects, including the Ontario Culture Strategy, the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, Community Justice Centres, the Urban Indigenous Action Plan and various rural schools engagements.
  • The Ministry of the Attorney General is conducting community needs assessments regarding the Community Justice Centre (CJC) model in three communities: Toronto, London and Kenora. CJCs apply an integrated approach to assess and manage low-risk vulnerable offenders by bringing the justice system together with health and social services together under one roof.

Recommendation: develop a provincial strategy for public properties

  • Assemble a comprehensive inventory of provincial and provincially supported public properties, including those owned by the broader public sector (e.g., Community Health Centres, child care/early learning centres, libraries, Elderly Persons Centres, affordable housing, schools, hospitals, colleges, universities, etc.).
  • Use this inventory to conduct analysis on opportunities for service delivery integration and co-location.
  • Change the disposition process for surplus public properties to review public needs and explore the feasibility of potential partnerships before a final decision is made.
  • Review the government mandate to require disposition of public properties at fair market value, including those owned by the broader public sector, and develop methodologies for conducting cost-benefit analysis of surplus properties that consider broader social and economic benefits for the communities.
  • Build a broader and more complete realty circulation list and ensure sufficient time to review surplus properties before disposition.
  • Develop measures to analyze the community use of provincially supported properties to better inform decision making on surplus space.
  • Implement a short-term strategy for schools.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Province is reviewing and compiling public property information to support internal and external planning decisions.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure is working with partners to develop common metrics and develop a consistent approach for asset data collection and reporting.
  • The Government of Ontario is assembling an inventory of surplus public properties including buildings and other assets owned and in use by the Province and other sectors, including schools, postsecondary institutions and hospitals.
  • A data map of surplus properties has been made publicly available on the Community Hubs Resource Network website.
  • As part of the Affordable Housing Lands Program, the Province is redeveloping six surplus provincial properties to provide affordable housing. Through partnerships with municipalities, the Province is working to co-locate these housing services with necessary community supports and services.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure is working with provincial partners to formalize proposed options to modify the existing disposition processes for provincial and school properties and to align processes as much as possible.
  • The Government of Ontario is developing a fair market value framework to evaluate the socioeconomic value of community use of public properties. Work is underway to finalize this property assessment methodology.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure has introduced the Surplus Property Transition Initiative to provide an opportunity for community proponents to submit their proposals for redeveloping surplus provincial, school board, or hospital properties. The initiative provides funding to eligible organizations to help cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs incurred by the current property owner for up to 18 months to allow community organizations time to complete business plans, find partners and secure funding to redevelop the property into a community hub.
  • The Ministry of Education introduced a Minor Retrofits and Accessibility capital fund which has allocated $100 million to school boards since October 2016 to retrofit available school space into space for use by new community partner(s) or expand existing community hub spaces in schools, or improve the accessibility of a school to enable use by a broader range of community partners.
  • As of 2017, the Ministry of Education will also fund the capital costs of relocating an existing community hub from one school to another where the original school is facing enrolment pressure or is to be closed or sold. Funding is to be allocated on a business case basis.
  • As part of the Province’s Plan to Strengthen Rural and Northern Education, the Ministry of Education will be working with partners to improve planning among school boards and community partners and strengthen the Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline.

Recommendation: remove barriers and create incentives

  • Continue to work with stakeholders to identify and find solutions to additional barriers that prevent the establishment of community hubs.
  • Simplify the capital approval process for community health agencies (e.g., Community Health Centres) and offer flexibility in design, funding and operating requirements to enable programming that reflects community needs.
  • Increase Local Health Integration Networks’ capital approval authority for community health projects.
  • Review the liability, security, access and property management issues to maximize use of school space by community partners.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure maintains an “issue tracker” of policy and program issues brought forward by community-based agencies. To date, the Ministry of Infrastructure has engaged with over 160 organizations to help troubleshoot their issues and refer people to appropriate resources.
  • Last year, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care released a redesigned Community Health Capital Program policy, and is currently evaluating effectiveness of the program.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care recently increased Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) capital approval authority to $500,000 to provide additional flexibility to support and enable the development of community hubs.
  • The Ministry of Education engages with education partners and will follow up in the coming year to discuss school boards’ best practices in addressing security and liability issues related to the use of school property by community groups, as well as best practices to increase the use of school space.
  • A best practices guide will be shared with school boards and other stakeholders to support increased use of school space by community groups.

Recommendation: support integrated and longer-term local planning

  • Require integrated planning to ensure client-focused service delivery regardless of jurisdictional boundaries (provincial, municipal, school board, health, and agency).
  • Work with the municipal sector and local stakeholders to explore opportunities to use provincial policy levers and legislation (e.g. Provincial Policy Statement, Growth Plan for the Greater Horseshoe, Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, The Municipal Act, and the City of Toronto Act) to strengthen and better enable community hubs.
  • Explore how public buildings can be designed and built with greater consideration for multi-use, inter-generational, and long-term requirements to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has conducted extensive research to explore successes and challenges of existing integrated planning mechanisms. This work was done with various planning structures and collaborative groups operating in five locations across Ontario and will help inform provincial strategies on how to enable integrated planning at the local level.
  • Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, was passed and strengthens the Province’s commitment with new regulatory tools available to support integrated planning for client-focused service delivery at the municipal level.
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is also working with partners to support integrated local planning and service delivery.

Recommendation: ensure financially sustainable community hubs

  • Explore the use of innovative financing models for community hubs, including social enterprise, social finance (e.g., Social Impact Bonds), public/private partnerships, and Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP).
  • Revise the Infrastructure Ontario Loan Program to expand eligibility.
  • Leverage provincial programs (e.g., ServiceOntario and Employment Ontario) as ‘anchor tenants’ to support community hub establishment and long-term sustainability.
  • Review options to leverage municipal financial tools, including business incubators, municipal capital facilities agreements and development charges, to support the creation of new community spaces.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth and MaRS Centre for Impact Investing hosted a four-part accelerator for community hubs stakeholders between May and June of 2017. The accelerator program helped community hub developers build their capacity for social finance and enterprise development.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure is exploring co-location opportunities with ServiceOntario and Employment Ontario to determine program integration and collaborative prospects.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure also continues its policy work to review eligibility for the Infrastructure Ontario loan program to assess opportunities to expand eligibility.
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is implementing reforms that will make it easier for municipalities to establish and financially incentivize business incubator hubs. In addition, education and training on the use of municipal financial tools (including business incubators, municipal capital facilities agreements and municipal/city services corporations) to support community hubs is ongoing, and will include training sessions, the publication of best practice case studies, and other informational resources aimed at building municipal capacity in the use of these tools.

Recommendation: increase local capacity

  • Engage experts and local practitioners to develop a resource centre for service providers to support the establishment of community hubs and provide training for providers.
  • To support local planning activities, and in keeping with the Province’s Open Government initiative, make government data such as demographic, GIS mapping, service planning information and the surplus public properties inventory, publicly available online.
  • Explore opportunities to support virtual community hubs.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Community Hubs Resource Network website, launched on May 1, 2017, is an online resource centre for those individuals who are working in, or planning for, a community hub to share best practices, solve problems and strengthen partnerships/coordination among organizations in Ontario’s communities. Currently, the Resource Network connects 550 members, providing necessary tools to make headway in their community hub development goals.
  • The Resource Network website offers community hub tools and resources, including access to a GIS data mapper that will help community hubs develop as well as create opportunities for members to engage with one another and share common experience and expertise.
  • Ontario is the first province to formally adopt the International Open Data Charter as part of its Open Government Partnership Commitments. This Charter symbolizes the Province’s initiative on providing the public with transparent access to data.
  • All Ontario Ministries have and continue to publish data inventories in the Data Catalogue which are available for public download as per our initiative to provide open data.
  • Last year, the Government of Ontario partnered with Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone and hosted a brainstorming session for virtual community hub options. The government is currently in the development stages for a Provincial Sport Group virtual hub.

Recommendation: evaluate and monitor the outcomes

  • Work with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s new Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making to develop an outcomes-based evaluation and measurement structure.
Demonstrated progress towards recommendations
  • The Province shared leading practices on performance measurement and evaluation tools at the 2017 Ontario Community Hubs Summit.
  • The Resource Network is also in the process of sharing performance measurement and evaluation tools online for community partners to access.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure has partnered with municipalities, multi-service agencies and community organizations to identify best practices for evaluation and performance measurements.
  • The Community Hubs Division has worked with the Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making to develop key performance indicators to assess the success of the initiative.