Community engagement team

A compassionate approach to complex social issues

what is the cet?

The Community Engagement Team (CET) is a unique, business-led outreach team that provides rapid-response support and intervention for non-violent crisis situations, as well as traditional street outreach services.

What began in 2018 as a pilot program funded through the City of Toronto BIA Innovation Fund has become a fully-integrated BIA program, funded by the Downtown Yonge BIA.

As of 2020, the CET is partially funded by the City of Toronto.

Three members of the street outreach team in the Atrium on Bay.

the model

Available 8-hours a day, 5 days a week, the priority of the CET is to respond to calls from streetfront businesses for people in crisis in their stores.

The goal of the CET is to provide an alternative that uses a client-centred, trauma-informed approach to crisis intervention – by providing on-site counselling, referrals to services or access to other resources as needed.

The CET has a response time of less than 10 minutes to crisis calls, and in the Fall of 2020, expanded its offerings with weekly partnered outreach sessions with a variety of stakeholders.

the impact

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, service offerings across the city were severely strained, resulting in less access to resources for clients. For the 12 months from January to December 2023, the CET recorded nearly 3,000 interactions with clients and made more than 300 referrals to community services and resources, while providing over 2,100 direct client services on the street.

Building partnerships is a foundational piece to the CET program, and in 2023, the team participated in over 200 individual partnered outreach sessions with 8 different partners and stakeholders. Of these, over 30% were held with the neighbourhood community police officers or transit special constables, with the goal of bettering relationships in the community.

Learn more about the community engagement team

The CET is an important resource available to all Downtown Yonge BIA member businesses.

Get in touch with us to contact the team or to learn more about the program.