Social planning survey to be distributed in September

By on August 12, 2017
City hall. (Herald file photo).

A City of Merritt committee will be distributing a three-question survey next month aimed at addressing social issues.

City council approved the questions at its July 25 meeting, which the social planning committee will now distribute, and collect feedback from, by the end of September.

The survey asks residents if they think the municipality has a role to play in addressing social issues, what the three most important social issues are that the city should address and, if the city were to hire a social planner, what that person’s role should be.

“Communities are in constant flux, they’re not static entities,” social planning committee chairperson Neelam Sahota told the Herald. “Needs change — economic needs change, social needs change — so we want to make sure that we have a strong foundation to build on.”

Sahota said the point of the survey is to gain clarity on what the social needs are in Merritt.

The social planning committee decided it needed to determine what social issues people cared about and if residents felt local government should be involved, said committee member Coun. Diana Norgaard at the July 25 council meeting.

“A number of communities in the province have social planners on their city staff, either contracted or actual staff members, to address issues in the community,” she said.

The social planning committee will be conducting the survey on a volunteer basis, she added.

Coun. Mike Goetz, who also sits on the committee, said the results of the survey will be brought before council for its consideration.

Council approved the survey by a vote of 6-1 with only Coun. Brown voting in opposition.

“My problem with this is it is the committee driving council, not council driving the committee,” said Brown. “This isn’t something that was initiated by council and sent to the committee. This is the committee coming back [and wanting] a social planner.”

Coun. Dave Baker disagreed, saying that the entire reason the city has committees is so that they can discuss issues and bring recommendations to council.

“The reason we strike committees is for this very thing — so that we don’t have to discuss all these issues that we may not know about,” said Baker.

How the survey will be distributed to the public is still to be determined Sahota told the Herald.

She said the committee will make recommendations to council based on the survey’s results.

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