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Red Deer Downtown Business Association

COMMUNITY CLEAN TEAM

International Downtown Association Award Submission 2015Downtown Leadership and Management Category

1INTRODUCTIONThe Red Deer Downtown Business Association (DBA) is a small organization of 3.5 permanent staff. We support just under 500 businesses and property owners in Downtown Red Deer, Alberta.The DBA holds the contract from the local municipality to keep the streets of the BRZ clean, including litter picking, pressure washing, emptying of garbage receptacles, graffiti removal, and collection of drug debris. Our Community Clean Team was created in 2014 through a partnership between the Red Deer Downtown Business Association and A Gathering Place, a clubhouse for adult individuals with mental illness located within our BRZ. Members of A Gathering Place are contracted by the DBA to work as part of the Community Clean Team for several hours a week.

The Downtown Business Associations office in Downtown Red Deer, Alberta2INNOVATIONThe Red Deer Downtown Business Association (DBA) faces similar issues as many other downtowns, including how to challenge the perception-based fear of encounters with the homeless and mentally challenged populations. The difference is how we approached the challenge, and embraced this population as part of the solution.The partnership with A Gathering Place allows us to provide meaningful employment for a minority group who may not otherwise have an opportunity to showcase their skills community pride.

Community Clean Team coordinator, Sandy, and two of her team members ready to start their day3REPLICATIONThis solution could easily be replicated by other downtown organizations that are responsible for keeping their area clean and litter-free, and have partner organizations within their BRZ/BIA with a similar client base.Members who have joined the Community Clean Team have indicated their participation has resulted in a noticeable improvement in their quality of life and level of dependence. Overall, the program has had a positive affect on our Downtown, including DBA staff, members of A Gathering Place and their management, business owners and staff, as well as the overall quality of the Downtown experience.

Downtown Red Deer, Alberta4REPRESENTATIONEach member of the team receives DBA-branded workwear and high visibility clothing so they are easily seen and recognized as part of the DBAs work force.Currently, the Community Clean Team is a partnership between the DBA and A Gathering Place. As our BRZ grows, our intent is to develop additional partnerships with other organizations who serve a similar client base.

The Ross Street Patio, a popular Downtown destination for Red Deer residents, and an area of particular focus for our Clean Team5SUSTAINABILITYA Gathering Place approached the partnership as a pilot project, as their management was originally unsure how the partnership would be received by their members and what the participation level would be. What they have discovered over the last year is the positive affect the partnership has had throughout the clubhouse. Members who have joined the Clean Team have indicated their involvement has improved their mental health and independence. They claim their roles on the team have improved their quality of life and provided them with a greater purpose to their days and lives.A total of nine individuals from A Gathering Place have joined the Community Clean Team, with a core group of four who average 8 12 hours per week. Although we have yet to see any of the participants move into other fulltime employment as a result of their involvement with the Community Clean Team, they have been able to increase their hours due to their aptitude on the job. This alone is a milestone.Feedback from Downtown businesses have also been positive.

Community Clean Team member, Wanda, on the job6EXECUTIONTeam members receive direction from both the Downtown Business Association and A Gathering Place management.A training program has been developed to introduce new team members to the job and thoroughly explain the responsibilities and expectations.Weekly meetings are held with the entire team to provide updates on tasks that need completing, feedback on work that has been done, and to provide any clarification needed by the team members.We started with two individuals on the team and have grown to four, with many more wanting to join the team. The hours and days worked are determined on an individual basis, and are flexible according to ability and availability of the team member.

Community Clean Team member, Wayne, on the job7OUTCOMEWeve seen the tremendously positive results the Community Clean Team has had on our downtown as a whole and the positive effect the partnership has had on participants from A Gathering Place. In addition to improving the appearance of our Downtown and assisting us to fulfil our street cleaning contract, this project has allowed the Red Deer DBA to:Provide meaningful daily activity to a marginalized population that may not have otherwise been able to contribute to their communityProvide a sense of community pride and self worth to this population, who are being paid a fair wage for their contributionsLead by example and show the business community the mutual benefits of embracing the community with live and work with.

We look forward to continuing the relationship with A Gathering Place members and hope to involve additional agencies as our BRZ grows and expands.Downtown Red Deer, Alberta8

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