By Joanne McQuarrie

[email protected]

The third Vital Signs report released by the Columbia Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) shows among the issues identified needing action, affordable housing is one of the most predominant.

With a theme of  ‘Managing Growth – Challenges & Opportunities’, a meeting hosted by the CVCF on January 13 at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce building, focused on conversations with residents, businesses, community organizations, government representatives  and universities and colleges.

With 45 participants, “It was a really good meeting,” said Thiloma Hofer, CVCF executive director. “Overall we were pleased with the attendance and pleased with how people were engaged in the topics. It was a launch for the report and to get people know what the statistical facts are. (There’s)  a lot of anecdotal (information) from the community. It was an opportunity to hear actual facts and figures.” 

The report showed affordable housing is a key issue: 49 per cent of survey respondents spend more than 30 per cent of their monthly income on housing costs, “which is kind of the danger point; it’s a really high number”, Hofer said, and added, “That percentage is higher ”, that the CVCF “didn’t get all of the underrepresented population counted” in the survey. 

“If you are really struggling to make ends meet, you don’t have time to full out surveys,” she pointed out.

As well, a press release indicated the study noted continued population growth is expected through part-time residents transitioning to permanent residents. Part-time residents transitioning to permanent residents belong to older age categories and will further increase the median age of… communities.

“We spoke about how our population is aging and what that means going forward. We’re growing rapidly; (there’s) stress on our infrastructure,” Hofer said. Food insecurity and healthcare access were also topics of discussion.  

Hofer emphasized in the press release,  “This year’s Vital Signs report demonstrates the importance of community knowledge and leadership in addressing the social challenges that the Columbia Valley faces. This ground-up approach puts the needs of our community at the heart of how we build communities where everyone enjoys a good quality of life.”

Hofer said there will be upcoming community events where the CVCF will share information with folks, about the Vital Signs report. “We hope (the community) uses it to (see) what’s happening, and moving forward. It’s easy to read; we want people in the community to use it; our goal is to make it engaging and get people started. There are copies available at the Chamber of Commerce building, Invermere and Radium public libraries. Copies are available on CVCF’s website as well. 

The Columbia Valley 2022 Vital Signs report is part of a global program that has engaged more than 100 communities in Canada and around the world to mobilize the power of community knowledge for greater local impact. Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada (CFC); it leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of communities and support action towards improving a collective quality of life. It’s the national network for over 200 community foundations in Canada.

CVCF has been bringing donors to the table as community builders since 2001.Together we are building a vibrant and caring community where everyone is valued, contributes, and feels they belong,” the release reads.Through the Vital Signs research and reports, we identify important local issues and ensure our donors are investing in programs that create lasting impact and change.