Needs assessment shows community’s thoughts on facilities and programming

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The results of a community needs assessment Morinville began last spring with Sturgeon County are now in and will enable the Town to more strategically allocate resources to target areas of greatest need. The project began in May of 2010 by RC Strategies Inc. sought to determine the recreational and social needs of Morinville residents and to determine to what degree those needs are currently being met.

The consulting firm sent out 2,877 household surveys and an additional 70 to stakeholder groups in the community. From that number, 399 household surveys and 22 stakeholder surveys were returned.

The data from those responses indicate Morinvillians are making use of existing facilities with the Morinville Public Library topping the usage list. Sixty-six per cent of residents indicated they had used the library at least once in the previous 12 months. That facility was followed closely by the arena at 59 per cent and the Morinville Rotary Splash Park at 55 per cent. Less used in the community were the seniors’ drop in centre (20 per cent), Bob Foster Skateboard Park (23 per cent), curling club (24 per cent) and the town’s parks and trail systems (46 per cent).

However, nearly three quarters of survey respondents indicated they had used Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert over the past year, 20 per cent claiming to have used the neighbouring facility more than 21 times in the previous 12 months.

Facilities limited in Morinville along with desire to pay for them

Seventy per cent of survey respondents indicated recreational and culture facilities were limited in the region, and another 20 per cent were unsure. Of those who felt facilities were limited, 67 per cent indicated an indoor swimming pool was what was needed and another 35 per cent would like to see an outdoor pool. In total, 21 items were on survey respondent’s wish lists of programs and facilities.

However, when asked how much of an increase in annual taxes they were willing to bear to support additional programs and facilities, 28 per cent indicated they were not prepared to carry any tax increase at all. Forty-four percent of respondents were agreeable to a tax increase provided it did not exceed $100 per year. Given the option of increases of $100 to $150, $151 to $200, and more than $200 – survey results dipped to 19 per cent, six per cent and three per cent, respectively.

Residents aware of issues but unaware of programs to deal with them
RC Strategies asked survey participants about social issues affecting Morinville. Topping the list at 77 per cent was substance abuse, followed closely behind by bullying at 75 per cent). Additional issues identified by respondents included parenting and child rearing as well as unsupervised youth, both of which were indicated by 70 per cent of respondents.

But while residents were quick to identify social issues, fewer numbers were aware of programs that address those specific needs. With respect to substance abuse, 65 per cent of respondents either did not know about available programs or were unsure as to whether or not they existed in the community. Fewer people were aware of programs to deal with bullying. Only 28 per cent indicated knowledge of such programs.

Knowledge of Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), who administer or support many social programs in the community, was also limited. Although 56 per cent of respondents had heard of FCSS, 60 per cent were either unaware or unsure of programs they offered.

But the knowledge gap greatly increases when looking at programs outside the Town of Morinville. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents were unaware or unsure of the existence of the Sturgeon Family Violence Intervention Committee. Another 79 per cent were unaware or unsure of the Sturgeon Adult Learning Centre, 77 per cent had little to no knowledge of the Sturgeon Family Literacy Program, and 73 per cent were unaware or unsure of the Sturgeon Literacy Program.

Pool and youth top comments
RC Strategies gave respondents an opportunity to add written comments on Morinville’s future community services planning. Topping the list at 29 mentions was the need for an indoor pool in Morinville. Additionally, 23 respondents mentioned a need for youth activities in the community.

Now that the survey report document had been accepted by Morinville Town Council, it can be worked into the Town’s Municipal Sustainability Plan and Recreation Master Plan, schedule to be updated in 2011.

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