Over 8,000 residents participate in County’s largest conversation
February 14, 2017
During a span of less than three months, over 8,000 people took part in the County’s largest public conversation, as part of the Community Talk initiative.
During the initial phase of Community Talk, an invitation was extended to anyone who lives or works in Strathcona County to have honest conversations about how to build a community where everyone feels supported, safe and connected.
From October 18 – December 31, 2016, 7,815 people shared their thoughts and opinions through a short survey, while 622 individuals participated in 48 community conversations in urban and rural locations across Strathcona County.
These important conversations took place with the support of 220 businesses, 33 community agencies, 25 faith communities, 102 school classrooms, 10 community hall associations and seven service clubs. In addition, volunteers and staff reached out to the broader community by visiting local flu clinics, recreation centres, transit buses and library bookmobile, as well as attending various rural and urban events throughout the County.
There was also an intentional effort to hear from our County’s most vulnerable populations and over this three month period all residents that came into contact with Family and Community Services for support were invited to have their voice heard through completion of a survey.
The purpose of the engagement was to re-examine the County’s 2007 Social Sustainability Framework to broadly test six goals and their relevancy today. The survey sought to determine if, as a community, people in Strathcona County:
- Feel like they belong and are connected to others.
- Feel safe and are free from physical and emotional harm.
- Are valued, respected and treated fairly.
- Are healthy (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional wellness).
- Work together to make our community stronger.
- Have all their basic needs met (eg: adequate income, education, childcare, housing and transportation).
Overall, almost 9 out of 10 respondents agreed it is important to achieve all of the first five goals. At the same time, an average of 7 out of 10 respondents agreed Strathcona County has reached these goals.
When asked about the meeting basic needs (goal six), the majority (93%) of respondents felt meeting all basic needs are important to achieve as a community. Meanwhile, as part of meeting basic needs, only 40% of adult respondents agreed the community has reached the goal of attaining quality and affordable childcare and affordable housing (40%). The majority of respondents agreed the community has met the goals of quality education (83%), adequate income (73%) and reliable transportation (69%).
The survey also asked respondents how the County can improve on any of the six stated goals. Analysis of the open-ended responses produced the following top eight themes:
- Affordability (housing, childcare, transportation, recreation, income)
- Need to work together for common goals
- Feeling of safety
- Fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance
- Improvements to the transit system (routes and frequency)
- More community events: neighbourhoods and County-wide
- Increase in mental health awareness and services
- Better access to programs and services
Similarly, four themes emerged from the second open-ended question asking ‘what can you do to help build a stronger community?’
- Community involvement
- Help one another (empathy)
- Work with each other to reach common goals (collaboration)
The Community Talk engagement, completed in late 2016, is just the start of a collective journey together. In winter/spring of 2017, there will be additional opportunities for residents to be engaged in renewing the County’s social framework.
In addition, a group of community leaders from local school divisions, non-profit organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Alberta Health Services, RCMP, faith community, library and County staff have come together to review the feedback and develop recommendations on how to move forward with the social framework.
All information collected will inform the creation of the new social framework for Strathcona County. This renewed framework is anticipated to be presented at the May 16, 2017 Priorities Committee meeting.
The intent is for the renewed framework to become a guide for the entire community on how we intend to create a supported, safe and connected community – together.
More information , including the What We Heard report and a short video or call 780-464-4044.
Set in the centre of Alberta’s energy and agricultural heartland, Strathcona County is a thriving, successful and vibrant community of almost 96,000 residents. Strathcona County is made up of the urban area of Sherwood Park and a large adjacent rural area of farms, acreages and smaller hamlets. It is home to 75 per cent of refining in Western Canada. With a focus on economic, governance, social, cultural and environmental sustainability, Strathcona County is committed to balancing the unique needs of its diverse community.
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Contact: Strathcona County Communications, 780-410-6595