This week, Buy Social Canada announced the Social Procurement Winners for 2021, and an Ottawa group was on the list!  .  Here is the award description for the LeBreton Flats Community Benefit Coalition (now known as the Ottawa Community Benefits Network)

“Social Procurement Champion – LeBreton Flats Community Benefit Coalition

From the first Canadian CBA for the 2010 Olympic village in Vancouver, to successful social procurement advances in cities like Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, the role of community-based leadership and advocacy is essential. Our Social Procurement Champions for community advocacy this year are the LeBreton Flats Community Benefits Coalition, in Ottawa. The LeBreton Flats Community Benefits Coalition is a collaboration of 31 community organizations advocating for a CBA approach to the redevelopment of a 29 hectare federally owned tract of land in Ottawa and thereby stretch the value of every dollar of investment to realize multiple benefit outcomes. This advocacy has led to collaboration with the City of Ottawa and includes efforts to realize social procurement policies and initiatives, thereby supporting the burgeoning cluster of social enterprises in the Ottawa region. This year we celebrate the forward-thinking efforts of the LeBreton Flats Community Benefit Coalition, which was initiated and driven by volunteers from the communities that will be directly impacted by the land transfer.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our interconnectedness and vulnerability, as well as demonstrating the precedence of the everyday economy over the financial economy and of the absolute indispensability of essential workers and the local state.  Prior to the pandemic however, Community Wealth Building (CWB) emerged in the mid-2000s, to challenge the underlying logic of neoliberalism and the failing national and local economic model that has produced such negative outcomes as ingrained poverty, inequality, ecological degradation and accelerating wealth extraction.  CWB seeks to shift the dial on economic development strategies by demonstrating a way to build collaborative, inclusive and democratically controlled local economies through the reconfiguration of local institutions to produce more equitable and sustained outcomes as a matter of course, rather than relying on redistribution “after the fact” in a lopsided economic model. Traditional economic development practice and developer-led regeneration are failing to address the economic challenges of our time.  Community Wealth Building (CWB) is a new people-centred approach to local economic development, which directs wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits in to the hands of local peopleIt requires new legal approaches and more importantly, lawyers who are committed to social justice lawyering and open to using legal tools to help communities thrive.  However, just as important, CWB organizations in our region, like the Centre for Social Enterprise Development, Ottawa Community Loan Fund, Community Futures Corporation in Renfrew, Lanark, and Prescott-Russel, and the Ottawa Community Benefits Coalition require their fair share of funding from the economic development budgets of our local municipalities. Stay tuned!

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