Vital Signs 2023 looks to municipalities for funding

The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta is looking for funds for its 2023 Vital Signs report.

Vital Signs, which gives insights into the community, reports on “how we're doing as a region by measuring community well-being in 11 different issue areas, so things like education, economy, recreation, culture and health, to name a few,” said Laura LaValley, executive director of Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta.

She says the report delivers input into what works well in the community and what needs improvement.

“It (the report) does this through gathering and analyzing the data from local, provincial and national sources, as well as through the citizen survey that we do locally,” said LaValley.

The 2023 report will be the first look at community post-shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

“We're coming through an unprecedented event, and that has impacted the lives of every single resident in our three municipalities and beyond,” said LaValley.

“We're not going back to normal, so we must look at how we're going to manage our new normal, so we're looking at things like how did communities demonstrate resiliency, how are we navigating, what are the current challenges, opportunities and successes and ultimately, what is the path to move forward.”

The cost of Vital Signs report is expected to be approximately $58,500. The community foundation has asked the both the city and county for $20,000.

City council pushed the ask to budget deliberations later in the month.

County council approved $20,000 in funding to the foundation through a Community Assistance Grant on Oct. 25 at a regular meeting of council.

An ask is expected to go to the M.D. of Greenview, and the foundation has also requested the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce for funding.

Data collection for Vital Signs 2023 is expected to begin in January and go until about August, with a citizen survey underway in February through March, said LaValley.

In August, data will be compiled and put into an “easy-to-read” report.

LaValley said the foundation hopes to return to the previous engagement style the group used prior to the pandemic, such as getting people to complete the survey on a tablet in person at events.

She hopes that additional engagement will lead to more respondents; the goal is to have at least 2,000 for this year’s report.

“We like to have youth over 14 involved just to get their perspective,” said LaValley, noting that the age group was hard to engage with during the pandemic.

This report will be the seventh annual report since 2011.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News