The Town of Eckville, FCSS and Eckville Neighbourhood Place have sent out Community Assessment Surveys into the community in order to allow residents to have dependable social data. This is the first time in 11 years that the Town has done a survey like this one.
“We are doing it within the Town of Eckville but also within the Lacombe County Division #7,” Coordinator Karin Engen said. “We will be doing this during the month of May. We have mailed out the surveys, but it is also available if you log on to the Town of Eckville website. There is a direct link to the Survey Monkey tool. We want to engage our community in identifying social issues. We have the ability after that to prioritize some of those issues identified.”
Once the surveys have been completed by residents, the organizers will collect the data and organize community conversations in order to elaborate on the results.
“We will be hosting community conversations where we will develop a plan to address these social issues,” Engen said. “We will summarize the survey around the end of June. We will be holding the community conversations probably in September.”
This survey has led to identifiable results in the past – something Engen hopes can achieved again.
“The survey back in 2006 really clearly indicated that Eckville was lacking recreational opportunities,” she explained. “The newly established Rec Board at that time formed some goals. One of those goals was, of course, to build the spray park. We have also managed to get a new walking trail and have hired a new Rec Director, and added more rec programming. Our minor sports all existed prior to our rec director and still exist independently, but our Rec Director was brought in to bring in alternative programming.”
These results have led to more options for residents.
“We wanted to bring in a variety of opportunities,” Engen said. “We also have the youth program and they are engaged in recreation, and we also got a food bank out of the original social needs assessment.”
Not only was the Town able to use the results to build a new program; they were also able to present them to upper levels of government in order to provide proof of need for additional funding.
“We were able to take the results of the survey and used them to access grants,” Engen said. “It was quite beneficial.”
Engen explained that the young population of Eckville has been the impetus to provide additional programming.
“Our population has a lot of people in that 25-35-year old range and we have a lot of young children,” she said. “We really tried to make our community family-friendly.”
Being able to involve the community is very important in terms of strategic social planning.
“We want to hear from everyone again, 11 years down the road, and we are looking for them to identify strengths in our community,” Engen said. “We are also looking to have them let us know what we should prioritize for the next five years. We want our community to be part of our strategies, going into the future, to address the needs of their families. The information generated from this tool is quite extensive and working together is what makes our community special.”
Not only does the survey provide valuable information, it also gives residents a chance at saving on their grocery bill.
“We have three prizes available for people who have completed the survey,” Engen said. “There are three $100 gift certificates from the Eckville Co-op. If anyone needs more paper copies, they are available at the Town Office.”