A summer of conversation has started that will inform the second Boundary Communities’ Vital Signs Report, which will be published in October. As the name suggests, Vital Signs takes a look at 11 key areas at the community level and attempts to clarify the current, potential and perceived issues facing local citizens.
Input from residents is combined with statistics to present an easy-to-read report of how a community is doing. The first Boundary Communities Vital Signs report was published in 2009.
The 11 issue areas are learning, transportation, environment, health and wellness, housing, arts and culture, gap between rich and poor, safety, food security, belonging and leadership and work.
The first public input session was held last Thursday at Boundary Central Senior Secondary in Midway. Survey forms were available asking participants to prioritize specific items within the 11 issue areas. For example, listed under Environment were air quality; garbage, recycling and composting rates; aquifer and water quality; or other. There was also an open conversation around the 11 issues.
Midway Councillor Dick Dunsdon attended the meeting and took away survey forms for his fellow-council members.
Along with the public workshops there will be other opportunities to complete the two-page survey, including an online version that will be announced in the coming months.
In July, citizens will have the opportunity to weigh in on Boundary-specific information and identify priorities for action at ‘Community Cafes’. The Boundary Communities’ Vital Signs report will be published on Oct. 7, 2014 as part of a nationally coordinated launch event.
Maxine Ruzicka and Doug Lacey share the role of Steering Committee Co-Chair and Karly Olsen is the Project Manager for the 2014 initiative.
The Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary Communities is spearheading the project. Thanks to a nomination from local Buy-Low Foods’ manager Fred Boyd, the Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary Communities received $10,000 from the Newman’s Own Foundation in 2013 and it was decided that the money would be used to update the 2009 Vital Signs report.
Ruzicka said the City of Greenwood has donated some money and other local politicians are being asked to support the project as well. Application has been made for a $5,000 Healthy Communities grant has been sponsored by the City of Grand Forks as well. Other partners include Success By 6, Boundary Family and Individual Services Society, Community Futures Boundary, Grand Forks District Savings Credit Union, School District 51 (Boundary) and YShift— the youth and philanthropy arm of the Phoenix Foundation. The Boundary Communities Vital Signs is part of a Community Foundations of Canada program, which sees Vital Signs reports published each year in 15 to 25 communities.
“The report is intended to illustrate how we citizens view ourselves and our life together,” said Ruzicka. “What are we about, what is working for us, what are our challenges, what can we as citizens to together to better the community?”
The report also highlights the views of local youth, giving them an opportunity to voice their opinions.
The 2009 report is available online at http:// www.vitalsignscanada.ca/en/foundations- 37-phoenix-foundation-of-the-boundary-communities
Since 2009 the Phoenix Foundation and other community organizations have used the report to guide granting decisions. It also provides an understanding of the priorities of local communities and has been useful in helping residents make decisions about how they might productively spend their volunteer time.
The Phoenix Foundation started in 1997 and serves the communities of Beaverdell, Bridesville, Rock Creek, Midway, Greenwood, Grand Forks and Christina Lake.
The challenge for the Vital Signs Steering Committee is getting ordinary citizens, community members and people involved with community organizations to take this opportunity to provide their thoughts, experiences and perceptions of the Boundary.
“We are just at the beginning of our conversation here,” said Ruzicka. “It is important for citizens to have conversations on these issues areas,” she said, adding that these conversations do not have to take place in a formal meeting.
The next public meeting will be on Wednesday, May 14 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the temporary location of Grand Forks City Hall (old Canpar building). 6641 Industrial Parkway, Grand Forks.
If you are interested in more information about the local Vital Signs initiative, please contact Karly Olsen. Vital Signs Project Manager, by email at karly.olsen@sd51 .bc.ca or by telephone at 250.442.8285 ext. 80149.