A new online survey launched by the Sustainability Commission this week asks residents to grade Rossland on 32 “sustainability indicators” ranging from housing density to property taxes to water consumption.
The result will be a “community report card,” said project lead, Jennifer Ellis. “It will help identify priorities for future sustainability efforts.”
“We want the opinions of the community,” said Sustainability Commission manager Lea Thuot. “We want to know how the community thinks we’re doing [as a town.]”
The 14-step survey is all part of the State of Rossland project funded by the Columbia Basin Trust “to monitor Rossland’s progress towards a sustainable future and the implementation of our strategic sustainability plan,” Ellis said.
Previously, the State of Rossland project has collected data on the same 32 indicators that Rosslanders will be asked about in the present survey. Thuot explained that community feedback at this point is vital: “If the numbers say one thing, but community members feel differently, that’s important for us to know.”
The 2010 State of Rossland report on these 32 indicators found lots of positive results: For example, the number of business licenses continues to grow, our student enrolment is decreasing at a slower pace than SD20 as a whole, our water quality is high, we are way more physically active than most other communities, and we enjoy nearly 32 kilometres of trails within the city and more than 106 kilometres of trails just outside city limits.
On the other hand, our electricity consumption exceeds provincial norms by 40 to 50 per cent. Our water consumption is roughly 500 litres per person per day on average, exceeding the national average of 330 litres per day, and European averages in the range of 150 to 200 litres per day.
The thorny issue of high property taxes in a town that lacks a major industry keeps nearly one in five people considering the possibility of leaving. Despite this, the last municipal election only saw a voter turnout of 49 per cent — albeit higher than the provincial average of 27 per cent, it did not match Revelstoke’s 66-per-cent voter turnout.
Demographically, Rossland has a bulge of baby-boomers in the 45 to 59 year old range, but also proportionally few residents in their 20s and early-30s — this could mean Rossland will experience the effects of aging baby boomers more strongly than the rest of B.C.
Part of the problem may be low diversity in the total housing stock. The majority of homes are single or family residences and very few have attached secondary suites. Multi-family and strata units comprise 42 per cent of Rossland’s housing.
The majority of Rosslanders also work outside of our town: Only 29 per cent work in the city. That compares to a local-work rate of 75 per cent in Trail and 70 per cent in Fernie, for example.
Ellis thanked all Rosslanders who participated in the previous indicator survey and she also congratulated Patti Grimsrud and Chad McCallum for winning the prize draw.
Thuot is pleased about this new survey and other projects focused on community engagement being launched this spring by the Sustainability Commission. “These get me excited!” she said. “Hopefully it will be a busy summer.”
To take the latest community grading survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/rosslandgrading. The survey can also be reached from a link on the Visions to Action website, www.visionstoaction.ca, where people can find complete results from previous State of Rossland surveys and the 2010 State of Rossland report.