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Vital Signs to catch pulse of Okanagan Similkameen

Aaron McRann is hoping to catch the pulse of the Okanagan Similkameen in a survey touching on a number of topics that directly affect every resident.

“The goal of the report is to take the pulse of the communities and provide citizens with a sense of where their community is at and what areas need to be addressed,” said McRann, executive director for the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan. “The report is an important discussion piece for our communities as it indicates issues that are facing our citizens.”

The foundation is picking up from their initial survey, released in 2011, called Vital Signs. Statistical data and community input will be collected for the second Vital Signs Report with a focus on all communities within the boundaries of the RDOS.

“The great thing about the program is that it is in approximately 30 other communities across the country so we have other successes to look to,” said McRann.

The inaugural report showed Penticton had its work cut out on housing, the gap between the rich and the poor and work, which all received a D+ grade or lower. The grades were based on the public’s opinion from 660 respondents, but this time they are hoping for over 1,000.

“I am very curious to see if there will be some changes, and I think there will be, but I don’t think there has been a dent in it yet. All of these things are big issues and they aren’t going to change immediately,” said McRann. “I’m as curious as the next person to see what the results are

Vital Signs has been of ultimate benefit to non-profit  groups who McRann said have used the report as independent supporting documentation to receive grants for a variety of programs.

A community forum on poverty also came out of the report and deemed a success opening up a frank discussion on the realities and struggles many in the city face. As a result many community organizations made connections to work together on a variety of projects said McRann.

“From an operational perspective for the local non-profit sector, it has been valuable for them to be able to plan and apply for grants and justify funding requests. For us we use it in our granting process every year in the criteria to filter through the applications,” said McRann, adding it has been an anchor point for many organizations starting conversations about how to address some of the issues touched on.

The Vital Signs survey can be found at www.VitalSignsSurvey.com, or, individuals can also contact the Community Foundation office at 250-493-9311 or at admin@cfso.net to have a copy mailed to them. McRann said it takes anywhere from two to eight minutes to complete. The report will be available Oct. 1.

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