Sunday, January 28, 2007

90,000 dollar Quality of Life survey goes to second phase

The City commissioned survey into the quality of life in Prince Rupert moved into its second phase this past week, as a number of focus groups got down to the task of determining the state of community spirit and pride, as well as the thoughts of participants regarding arts, culture, housing, recreation and safety to name a few.

The consultations are being conducted to help prepare the city for its work on the Official Community Plan review, a process that will the see the dusty 20 year old plan get a bit of an update and stake out some ground for growth in the community for the future.

The focus group process is just the start of project, which will look for further community input as things progress, a relief to many who feel left out when they weren't invited to take part in the focus groups this week.

The Daily News provided details of the project in Friday's newspaper.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, January 26, 2007

There’s no reason for people to fret if they were not involved in the focus group meetings for the Quality of Life survey this week , says the city.

According to Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond, there will be plenty of future opportunities to have a say in the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP) review.

“It’s important for everyone to understand there are a number of phases in the process and facets. Just because you may not have been asked to participate in one, does not mean you won’t have access and it doesn’t mean there is going to be a product you don’t get any input on,” said Pond.

The consultant will be putting together an initial report that will be used for discussions about the OCP review and she has been holding focus group meetings this past week to talk about issues relating to community spirit and pride, including such subjects as arts and culture, recreation, education, housing the environment, safety and transportation.

While Pond has dropped by a few meetings to say hello to participants, the focus group meetings have been politician-free.

The process is the second step in getting some basic information on which to base the OCP review.

The first step included the Community Wide Survey that was conducted by telephone this past December. Participants were selected randomly and they gave a community-wide perspective, rather than simply having the loudest voices heard.

While there have been some concerns raised at council by Coun. Joy Thorkelson that everyone should have a chance to speak before any documents are produced, Pond said the first document will only paint a very fuzzy picture, a starting point for discussions.

“There will be a report produced and then we move to the next phase, talking about that publicly and asking what you want the community to look like,” he said.

“There’s going to be a lot of public opportunity. You can’t do a good official community plan without public input,” he said.

Pond added that the Quality of Life Survey allows the city to collect statistically accurate background information so in five years, they can look back and see how they are doing.

“We can benchmark ourselves so we don’t have to say ‘we think we are doing a good job or poor job’ on something but we can actually test it,” said Pond. The city is spending $90,000 reviewing its 20-year-old Official Community Plan.

At council last week, Coun. Joy Thorkelson also suggested inviting Prince Rupert’s neighbouring communities, such as Port Simpson and Metlakatla, to have a say about what amenities they would like to see.

Both of those communities have ferry docks in Prince Rupert and most residents shop locally.

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