Our Community Impact

Strengthening Prince Edward County through support and learning.
PELC drives growth in our community through literacy, advocacy and belonging. Our diverse initiatives empower both the community as a whole and individuals within it.

Ongoing Initiatives

Supporting Community Advocacy

Our learners’ interests and passions guide hands-on projects to effectively advocate for community change.

We take a holistic approach to civic literacy, with a focus on nurturing skills for effective self-advocacy. Our topics are driven by current events and our students’ interests. Our learners explore varied subjects through guest speakers and field trips that provide hands-on learning opportunities and build community connections.

When students find a topic that ignites their passions, we will tailor programming around their interests and goals. This may culminate in a deputation to municipal council. Students’ interests often centre on improving areas of our community that have traditionally been under-served.

Staff help support students through conducting research; critical thinking and exchanging ideas; supporting their arguments with evidence; writing and editing their presentations; and rehearsing their delivery.

This is transformative work. Students develop tremendous confidence through the process, and rightly take pride in their results. Deputations by PELC students advocating for our community have resulted in:

  • New sidewalks, lighting and a crosswalk on the Heights to enhance pedestrian safety
  • Establishing a municipal food security working group
  • Student feedback on the County’s Short-Term Accommodations (STA) draft plan
  • A neighbourhood vision for improvements at Macaulay Village Park on the Heights

Transforming Macaulay Village Park

A two-year project working with community residents, volunteers and the municipality to realize a new vision for the park on the Heights.

Park improvements on the Heights in Picton are nearly complete! New playground equipment has been installed at Macaulay Village Park on London Avenue, along with trees and a sun shelter, transforming the once-sparse area into a vital recreation area and community hub.

Residents had wanted to improve the park for years. PELC Essential Skills Coordinator Jennifer Hunter spearheaded a renewed, neighbourhood-driven initiative, bringing together volunteers and support from all sectors, and integrating PELC curriculum support in civic literacy and community advocacy.

The project unfolded in many stages:

  • Listening to community needs
  • Applying for several grants
  • Planting community garden beds
  • Working with learners to research and present a deposition to County Council, advocating for park improvements
  • Partnering with VTLA Studio to produce drawings for a community-engaged park design and food garden
  • Installing a sun shelter (during the United Way Day of Caring)
  • Hosting tree-planting parties with native saplings
  • Installation of new play equipment

This work brought together an incredible group of committed volunteers and learners, and many generous donations of building materials, excavating, soil and saplings, not to mention time, talent and expertise!

View the photo essay in our Nov. 2023 newsletter

Supporting Early Literacy

Delivering children’s books to families in partnership with County Kids Read.

There’s no better way to nurture a lifelong love of reading than for families to read together. Through our partnership with County Kids Read, a selection of children’s books is always available at PELC.

CKR also has a free book pop-up twice a month at our PEC Fresh Good Food Market in Picton — typically the first and third Wednesday of each month. Shoppers can take home a free book with their fresh fruits and vegetables.

Since 2021, PELC has partnered with CKR and Prince Edward County Library to host an annual Reading Round-Up on the Heights. This has grown into a community barbecue with events for the whole family. Kids are happy to hear a story, get their own library cards, and take home a free book! These events are a great opportunity to build community connections, and gather feedback on community needs and promote advocacy.

Community Benefits and New Development

Helping community members advocate for development that gives back to the community.

Prince Edward Learning Centre, Thrive PEC and the County Foundation are collaborating with community members to advocate for development that gives back to the community. Focusing on existing plans for development, a new local Community Benefits Network (CBN) will work with developers and the municipality to map out community-defined needs and goals.

Their goal is to learn how other communities have created Community Benefits Networks – coalitions to achieve community visions for affordable housing, decent jobs and other investments – and apply those lessons here.

Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are negotiated agreements between a private or public development and a coalition of community-based groups. Communities identify their needs and negotiate tangible outcomes. Typical benefits can include jobs, training, apprenticeships, neighbourhood improvements and units set aside for affordable housing.

There are numerous examples showing what communities have achieved, working with developers and their local municipalities:

  • Through the work of Build a Better Fairview, a development in West Don Lands agreed to dedicate 20% of 6,000 rental units to affordable housing, with 5% dedicated to first-time homeowners;
  • Toronto Community Benefits Network has secured decent jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for people experiencing barriers to employment through an agreement on Light Rapid Transit (LRT);
  • Ottawa Community Housing has entered a CBA with First Nations that incorporates access to education and employment, as well as affordable housing.

Community wealth building strategies differ from traditional approaches to reducing poverty by focusing on development – such as public infrastructure – working with funding that’s already allocated. Most agreements incorporate the interests of people who do not typically benefit from economic growth, such as young adults, newcomers and low-income communities.

A community-led vision for Prince Edward County has already started taking shape. In 2023, Thrive PEC met with hundreds of County residents to imagine what PEC wants to be. Actions to reach this shared vision are guided by several pillars: affordability; quality jobs; economic diversity; sustainable tourism; climate protection; arts and cultural heritage; community connections; social infrastructure; and social services.

Plans for new development in Prince Edward County – including upcoming projects by Quinte Health Care Corporation, Base31, Cork and Vine, and VineRidge – may lead to more than 10,000 new homes and rental units, representing tremendous potential for impact.

The first step is bringing together the community to define what we want from developers. The recently formed Prince Edward County Community Benefits Network is in the early stages of asking these questions.

Learn more at Thrive PEC

Heights (Macaulay Village) Neighbourhood Group

A new neighbourhood group on the Heights is developing a Neighbourhood Plan, empowering residents to define a vision for the community, as well as advocate for development that benefits the community.

In 2023, PELC hosted a series of presentations on community wealth building. With all the new development planned in Prince Edward County, there is increasing interest in how development can be harnessed to help realize a community vision. The first step is to bring the community together to define what it would like to see.

The Heights (Macaulay Village) neighbourhood in Picton established a neighbourhood group in order to begin this visioning work, and articulate what kind of community improvements residents would like to see.

In 2023 and 2024, PELC gathered input through a series of community conversations and surveys. The results were presented in a Neighbourhood Plan.

2024 Macaulay Village Neighbhourhood Plan

For more information, email Chris Durant: inspire@pelc.ca

Engaging and Empowering Youth

PELC works collaboratively with youth, adult mentors and community partners to support the work of the Greater Than County Youth Collective, continuing work that grew out of the Youth Community Action Project.

Greater Than County Youth Collective

Greater Than was established as a collaboration of youth-serving agencies founded in 2015, including the ROC (Recreational Outreach Centre), the Students Commission of Canada, and the County Foundation. The group chose its name to signify by working together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.

In 2021, the group produced a Shared Learning Report examining the state of youth in Prince Edward County:

In 2022, Greater Than was invited to participate in the Community Building Youth Futures project, a youth-led initiative to raise high school graduation rates in Prince Edward County, funded by the Tamarack Institute and Government of Canada. As we progress toward our ultimate goal, success is measured in increased school attendance, participation in different activities, and engagement with community resources.

This collective impact project was national in scope, with data collected across 20 communities. Youth remain at the centre of the process, collaborating with mentors in business, government, and youth-serving agencies to break down barriers to youth engagement.

Local innovations include:

  • Digital strategies to engage youth
  • Digital storytelling, including a widely viewed video about youth experiences with housing insecurity
  • Free youth events in public spaces
  • Honorariums rewarding youth participation and achievement
  • Hosting “hackathons” to co-design solutions to issues that are important to youth
  • A documentary about a youth songwriting experience, engaging youth in post-production

The hackathon model has helped amplify youth voices and supported youth engagement, empowerment and leadership, including a youth-built website!

Greater Than has now moved into its next phase, maintaining a sustainable community presence that will continue to support youth-led initiatives and keep youth voices front and centre, with support from community agencies including the County Foundation, Picton BIA and PELC.

www.greaterthancyc.ca

Youth Community Action Project (YCAP)

YCAP worked to establish safe spaces for youth, and seed youth-identified activities in PEC, with support from the Municipal Community Grant Program and the Community & Economic Development Commission. Though YCAP has been replaced by the Greater Than County Youth Collective, these YCAP-funded projects live on:

  • Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA): a group of 2SLGBTQ+ high school students and allies who get together to be in a safe space during their lunch hour
  • Inclusion Committee: student activists supporting the needs of marginalized communities within the high school, by working to create safer spaces
  • Discover YOUth: a community hangout for 2SLGBTQ+ folks
  • A mural at the Recreational Outreach Centre (ROC)
  • Eagle Eye, a youth-produced newspaper at Athol-South Marysburgh School

Past Initiatives

Cooking Up Food Literacy

These small group classes offered hands-on learning in a fun, relaxed environment.

Participants tried new recipes, gained confidence in the kitchen, and left each class with food they could enjoy at home! Our food curriculum included:

  • Meal planning and shopping on a budget
  • Cooking techniques and knife skills
  • Scaling up recipes for larger quantities
  • Nutritious foods kids love!

Supporting Learners Through Covid

During the first lockdown, as the world moved indoors and online, PELC focused on bolstering digital literacy.

We conducted a digital audit with students, to make sure they had the tools to stay in touch with the rest of the world, and to participate in online learning, including:

  • Laptops
  • Cell phone minutes
  • Internet connections
  • Training on using Zoom and FaceTime

Next, we researched funds in the community to help people meet their basic needs. We did two rounds of porch visits, helping our staff and student community maintain a feeling of connection during a time of isolation. Through these check-ins, and outreach through our free tax clinics, we distributed:

  • Gift cards for local grocery stores and the PEC Fresh Good Food Market
  • Gift cards for basic needs
  • County Transit bus passes
  • Literacy packages to families with children
Our civic literacy Experience
“Our deputation led to a municipal food security working group. It felt good, making an impact. I hope to do more things like that in the future.”

— Sam Dorey
Make a difference
Your involvement fuels positive change in our community