Poverty and crime are the biggest concerns on the minds of Red Deerians according to the latest Vital Signs report released Tuesday.
Spearheaded by the Community Foundations of Canada, Vital Signs is a consolidation of research from a spectrum of sources. Once all the data is collected, local residents share their views with a grading process.
There are a range of aspects considered from safety, health and wellness, learning and arts and culture to innovation, transportation and the environment.
“In the last five years, we have been able to paint a picture of Red Deer, and in some instances of Central Alberta through the indicators in 12 areas that determine our overall quality of life,” said Kristine Bugayong, acting operations manager of the Red Deer & District Community Foundation.
This year, concern over poverty was cited as the most important issue, followed by the areas of crime/safety and social programs/services. The report shows that 50.6% of respondents named poverty as the number one issue with crime listed by 46.3% and 21% of respondents saying the economy was Red Deer’s most important issue.
On the positive side, the community is showing some signs of recovery from the economic turmoil reflected in reports from the last few years, she said.
Interestingly, although it’s listed as one of the top three ‘issues’ in Red Deer, the economy is also listed in the top three strengths of the community as well. Green spaces and trails systems and recreation/active living were also considered among the City’s greatest strengths, said Bugayong.
“When our community graders were asked if they could rate their overall well-being as high, 68.5% either said ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘strongly agree’.”
Also, when asked about the community’s vitality and overall quality of life, a majority said Red Deer is a healthy and vibrant community, she said.
That’s backed up by fDi Magazine which earlier this year named Red Deer as one of the top 10 ‘micro-cities’ in its size category within North America for quality of life. Alberta Venture magazine also declared Red Deer as one of the 25 best communities in which to do business in western Canada, said Bugayong.
This is the fourth year local residents have taken part in the Vital Signs project, which now takes place in 22 communities across Canada. Respondents’ comments are also included in the report, enhancing the ‘community snapshots’ that the numbers provide.
Bugayong said the information is helpful to the Foundation when considering financial grant disbursement. It’s also valuable information for all kinds of organizations and policy makers including local governments such as City council and the Red Deer College Board of Governors.
“We are proud to be part of a growing number of Community Foundations across the country that have the desire to learn more about their communities, and to have that depth of understanding that could guide us in fulfilling our mandate as a catalyst for action and positive change,” she said.
“It paints a picture of the community,” said Bugayong. “And it’s also about getting the conversation started.”
To check out the expanded version of the report, visit www.reddeervitalsigns.ca.