The Town of Ajax embraces and values diversity, and promoting an engaged, healthy and inclusive community. The Town is strongly committed to equity and diversity through its policies, procedures, service delivery, amenities and employment practices. One of the guiding principles of the Corporate Strategic Plan is a strong sense of community, which affirms the heart of the Town of Ajax; the heart of the city being its residents. As a caring community, we will nurture and strengthen the elements of a welcoming and inclusive town.
The Diversity and Community Engagement Plan was formed by the fact that Ajax has had the second highest percentage of population growth since 2001, while experiencing the highest percentage of immigrants as a percentage of that growth. This meant that a sound plan had to be developed to meet the diverse and ever growing population. Ajax has over 7,000 residents that speak a language other than English and the percentage of culturally visible residents in Ajax is 36%.
The Corporate Vision Statement says, "While embracing change, the Town of Ajax will meet the challenges of the future and be seen as an innovative public sector leader. As a team of valued employees, taking pride and ownership in all that we do, we will exceed our customers’ expectations." This describes how the Town of Ajax wants to be viewed in all that it does.
The Town of Ajax has been an advocate of improving race relations for over 13 years. The Ajax Race Relations Advisory Committee, now known as the Diversity and Community Engagement Advisory Committee (DACE), was originally formed in 1997. Its intent and purpose was to address the fact that Ajax has had the second highest percentage of population growth since 2001.
Making a Difference:
The Diversity and Community Engagement Plan outlines 51 recommendations and to date, 43 have been accomplished. These milestones have led to the development of a Staff committee that works collaboratively with the Diversity Coordinator. A few of the significant achievements include:
• Enhanced HR policies with a continued commitment to diversity and inclusion;
• Developed ongoing training opportunities and activities to discuss diversity and inclusion;
• Developed Diversity Policy;
• Coordinated a review of all Operating Procedures, Work Instructions, Forms and Corporate Policies with a diversity lens;
• Provide diverse programs and services such as inclusion services; meeting accessibility needs and/or other diverse services, language lines etc.
Managing change has been one of the major challenges that we have had and will continue to have as the diversity continues to grow in the Town of Ajax. With these changes clearly defined, policies and procedures had to be established. Another challenge is being able to address unconscious bias, prejudices, stereotypes and beliefs. With an estimated 40% of the Town's population comprising of 'visible and/or racialize minorities' we have had to address racism, discrimination, ableism, heterosexism, ethnocentrism etc., within the community.
Vision for the Future:
The Town of Ajax has experienced an unprecedented rate of growth and development, which has resulted in substantial changes to the social, cultural, economic and political landscape. Phase 2 of our Diversity and Community Engagement Plan will continue to focus on these needs by developing/reviewing policies and increasing awareness through educational opportunities, equitable access to employment, programs/services, and community engagement opportunities; as well as outreach through communications and neighbourhood building.
IMPACT Ajax fund provides community organizations and neighbourhoods with an opportunity to create impactful programs, services, and events that would otherwise not have been accomplished. The Fund has become a novel community development approach that has incubated progressive, innovative, and sustainable solutions by community organizations and neighbourhoods. Many community and cultural organizations have benefited from these initiatives and as such have been able to host diverse cultural events.
About the Town of Ajax
Ajax is part of Durham Region, one of the fastest growing areas of Ontario. The population of Ajax is approximately 91,000, with hundreds of new homes being built every year. As a rapidly-growing community, Ajax includes a vibrant mix of well-established and new neighbourhoods. The diversity of our population can be seen every day, and at regular community events such as Home Week, Ajax Family Festival and Pickering Village Fall Festival, among others.