NORTH BATTLEFORD - Planning Committee in North Battleford got the results Monday from the welcoming and inclusive community regional survey conducted this year.
The multiple choice survey ran from Dec. 6, 2021 to Feb. 28, 2022. According to a city memo circulated Monday, it received positive participation from 1040 responses, 659 of them from North Battleford.
The bad news is the survey produced a lot of responses that were less than definitive on the issue of inclusivity and whether the city was doing enough.
There were 33 questions in the survey and “not sure” consistently got 20 to 30 percent of the responses.
When asked about leadership by elected officials, communication by elected officials, inclusivity for other needs, staff skills, responding to reports of discrimination, and gender identity and expression, “not sure” was the number one response.
For other questions, the top responses pointed in a much more definitive direction.
On respecting the rights of Indigenous people over 30 percent agreed that municipal leaders are increasingly reaching out to Indigenous communities to build relationships and discuss land use planning.
On resident participation in services, 39.4 percent responded that although staff may try to be welcoming, The municipality knows that residence from marginalized populations generally do not use/attend programs and services.
On cultural programming, over 27 per cent agreed that cultural programs celebrate multiculturalism by showcasing diversity in food dress and dance, but ignores other aspects of culture (e.g. history, religion, family structure, traditions.)
On language barriers on service delivery, over 38 per cent agreed Municipal leaders want to serve residents who may not speak English, but do not have resources in place.
And on diversity in public consultation, over 38 per cent responded it was the same type of people who attend town halls, take surveys, write letters to the editor or comment on social media.
City Clerk Stacey Hadley noted the survey indicated the need for improved communications when it came to council participation, community events and programs, partnerships and initiatives.
Hadley also pointed to positive responses for accessibility at city facilities, fostering of relationships with regional partners, and the positive and culturally supportive experiences between regional residents and the protective services department.
The intention is for the City to use the responses as it develops its plan of action to integrate diversity and inclusion into its policies and initiatives, and to meet the 10 Common Commitments of the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities which North Battleford has signed on to.
The survey was widely seen as a good starting point, with Hadley saying as a first survey it would set a baseline.
Still, the high number of “not sure” and skipped responses did concern some councillors. “Maybe if we make some of the questions not skippable in the future,” was the response from Councillor Kent Lindgren.
Councillor Bill Ironstand was less impressed by the responses.
“Looking at the survey, 70 per cent Caucasian, 65 per cent women, 30 to 44 years old was 37 per cent, (92 per cent) speaks English as a first language, 70 per cent were heterosexual, 76 per cent no disability, 52 per cent were Christian, 85 per cent were born in Canada — I do not think that is a reflection of our community as a whole,” said Ironstand.
For his part Councillor Greg Lightfoot said he was happy with the responses.
“I think the survey actually hit a good number of individuals in different spectrums,” said Lightfoot, who called it a good start. “It’s the best representation we can get at this point in time.”