Results are in for the District of Clearwater’s (DOC) community survey, put out as a means to gather information on priorities citizens would like to see focused on in the upcoming four year strategic plan.
A total of 364 residents filled out the survey, launched in January, with a majority expressing a lack of employment opportunities, growing in a sustainable manner and available rental options as the main challenges facing the community.
“Those were great to get feedback from the community on, and it’s going to give council some topics to really reflect on and think about what that might mean,” said Shelley Sim, chair of the Economic Development Committee and councillor for the DOC.
“I think it’s probably worth having smaller round tables amongst the community to delve into those topics.”
In terms of economic development participants indicated they’d like to see more businesses involved in manufacturing (wood, furniture etc.), followed by telework (professional firms who can work from anywhere), then health care related businesses, education and training, and commercial retail come to Clearwater.
Sim added the responses were interesting and council would direct research into these areas to see what the recommendations would look like if they were applied locally.
“The budget has actually put more money into economic development, so that will allow a bit more resourcing to inform those types of questions and where we might go as a community,” she said.
As for capital improvements, residents named road infrastructure as the main item they’d like to see addressed.
While road improvements were already on council’s agenda, Sim said the issue can be reevaluated further now that the public has expressed a stronger interest in seeing the situation addressed.
“We can look at some of the priorities under (road infrastructure); we have an infrastructure plan and assessed our more vulnerable areas in the community and the needs required from there, so we just have to re-prioritize where things are going,” said Sim.
“I know people are quite keen on it and we were pleased to hear from the community that was a priority; now it’s to work with our roads contractor to address some of the more significant needs in the area and develop a long term plan—roads are super expensive and we have to make sure we are leveraging every dollar to the maximum benefit of the community.”
All in all responses from the survey reflected what mayor and council expected to hear, she said, and comments made in the survey were thoughtful, insightful and positive, giving the DOC good material to look over as it develops the upcoming strategic plan.
Some of the other statistics from the survey showed the majority of participants had lived in Clearwater for more than 21 years at 49 per cent. For people who moved to town within the last five years 22 per cent came for the rural character and the number one thing participants enjoy about Clearwater is the lifestyle, with 77 per cent choosing it as their favourite characteristic.
“On behalf of council we were really pleased with the amount of time people took to engage in the survey, but one of the demographics I would really be interested in hearing from more is some of the men in our community—the women seem to be more keen to do it, so it would be nice to see in our second out,” Sim said.
The amount of women who filled out the survey was 69 per cent with only 28 per cent of respondents being men. A total of .28 per cent identified as non-binary.
“We are going to have a reevaluation of our healthy living community program, so we are going to see a few more surveys going out, and it’s just a quick and easy way to continually get feedback from our community and make sure our priorities are matching our community growth and development.”
Full results of the community survey can be found at www.districtofclearwater.com.