The top issues for residents related to quality of life – traffic, noise, garbage, litter, lighting, safety and landscaping.
By Allan Best
The Western Residents Association (WRA) represents Eagle Harbour, Gleneagles, Copper Cove, Horseshoe Bay, Eagleridge and Whytecliff. We aim to keep residents well informed about community issues, and to provide a strong voice with the West Vancouver Municipal Council.
Here we would like to paint a picture of the communications strategy we’ve built over the past two years, and the changes our residents would like to see in 2018. This is a summary of the WRA Communications Committee’s initial needs assessment survey and the Engaging our Future series of community forums we’re developing this year. The WRA communication objectives are to: (1) grow membership; (2) strengthen communication with all residents in the area; and (3) link effectively with other community organizations. Our September 2016 survey was designed to determine resident views about preferred nature (i.e. news items, events, priority issues, WRA minutes) and ways of communicating (i.e. email, Facebook and Twitter, WRA website, public forums, brochures and postings, and newspaper articles).
The survey also asked about priority issues with which WRA might help, and views about the Streetscape vision. Respondents were invited to provide their email if they wanted continuing communication with WRA. Email was the preferred communication medium for 91 per cent of our respondents. We provide routine messages including notice of WRA meetings, upcoming events, news updates, and information from the District. Our Facebook page anticipates and reinforces email messages.
While the primary purpose of emails is to convey information, social media add value by stimulating interest, increasing engagement, and growing sense of community. The top issues for residents related to quality of life – traffic, noise, garbage, litter, lighting, safety and landscaping. Second was communications – issue notification, community feedback to council, speaking for the community, and promoting a sense of community. The final set of top issues focused on development and enhancement – local area planning, affordable housing, transit, and the Spirit Trail.
This underlines the ongoing challenge of a residents-based organization like ourselves; to serve as an advocate, and community builder for a sector of residents who are also part of a much bigger community, understanding that decisions which affect us are made within the context of serving the larger community, principally in our case, the District of West Vancouver. As a communications strategy, we need to ensure that the concerns of our western end are valued, taken into consideration when decisions that affect us are made.
We also need to ensure that our residents are provided with opportunities to learn about the larger context of those decisions, the facts and considerations behind them, and that those who implement the decisions are also aware of our members concerns. Communication is a two-way enterprise, and the WRA is committed to facilitate that exchange. Our survey’s success benefited greatly from collaboration with partner organizations, in particular Block Watch as a key partner for survey distribution. Other partners like the District itself, the Horseshoe Bay Business Association, Gleneagles Community Centre, and Gleneagles School are engaged and offer invaluable opportunities for communications in the future.
The opportunity we will grow in 2018 is collaboration in reaching out to provide direct engagement and information sharing among our residents and these partner organizations. As part of our commitment to engage in meaningful two-way communication, we launched the Engaging our Future series in October, in partnership with the District and the Gleneagles Community Centre, with a forum on traffic calming and safety. A panel of speakers from the District’s engineering division outlined their “three E” model of Education, Engineering and Enforcement. Breakout groups brainstormed priorities for 2018.
The three recommendations we outlined included (1) better speed limit signage, and better enforcement including periodic “blitzes” on weekends; more calming construction, including speed humps in priority areas such as the Marine Drive section from the Nelson roundabout to Whytecliffe Park; and (3) better engagement with residents to ensure input to significant plans. We’re developing action plans to work with residents and the District on these priorities. Future Engaging Our Future forums will include one in February or March on emergency preparedness, and a May Forum on the Official Community Plan for West Vancouver.
Stay tuned! We invite you to provide your email so that we can stay in touch! Come to the next Engaging Our Future forum! We want to hear what you think!