DIDSBURY - Ninety-three residents participated in a town survey designed to gather input on what people like about Didsbury and where they would like to see improvements.
The Residents and Business Survey was undertaken by the Didsbury Economic Development and Strategic Operations department at the instruction of council. It was presented to councillors during the recent regularly scheduled council meeting.
Alexandra Ross, Didsbury economic development officer and strategic operations coordinator, called the survey a good tool for future planning.
“The community gave us a really good indication of what they would like to see,” Ross told council. “For example, they provided input on business opportunities that we have and that will be supported by the community. It’s exciting to see what type of businesses they (residents) would like to see.”
Key questions in the survey included those aimed specifically at the business community.
Respondents provided a number of suggestions for the town, including more promotion for Didsbury and its businesses, transparency and better long-term community planning, more activities and businesses that offer activities for youth, more arts and culture, and more local job opportunities.
Respondents said areas where improvements could be made include street conditions, affordable housing availability, back alley clean up, more pathways including for walking and biking, a second grocery store, more activities for children and youth, and a bigger dog park.
Suggestions of additions to the town include pocket parks with benches and picnic areas, public fruit, garden and community garden, more public art and stops of interest for visitors to take photos, increased evening activities, attracting more businesses, attracting more events such as live music, and more activities to attract youth, including a youth centre.
Residents were asked a number of specific questions, including the following:
• What are the main reasons you moved to Didsbury? Responses included small town and community (60 per cent), place to raise children (38 per cent), housing (25 per cent), location (24 per cent), close to hospital (22 per cent), family and friends (18 per cent), and business opportunities (eight per cent).
• What is your overall satisfaction with quality of life in Didsbury? Very satisfied (18 per cent), satisfied (54 per cent), neither satisfied or unsatisfied (17 per cent), somewhat dissatisfied (10 per cent).
• What business opportunities brought you here? I own a business in Didsbury (31 per cent), I plan to open a business in Didsbury (four per cent), not applicable (60 per cent).
• How is your business currently doing? My business is doing well (18 per cent), my business is doing OK (14 per cent), my business is suffering (14 per cent).
• On a scale of from one star (least likely) to five stars (most likely), how likely are you to recommend Didsbury as a place to do business? One star (20 per cent), two stars (nine per cent), three stars (29 per cent), four stars (20 per cent), and five stars (23 per cent).
• What do you like most about Didsbury? Lifestyle (45 per cent), recreational amenities (29 per cent), safe place to live (55 per cent), friendly people (51 per cent), family friendly (38 per cent), and nature surroundings and pathways (30 per cent).
Mayor Rhonda Hunter said the survey provides good information on the current state of the town and ideas going forward.
As well, the survey results point, in part, to a need for a housing assessment in town, she said.
“We need to better understand the housing that we need,” said Hunter.
The mayor asked Ross what administration plans to do with the survey results.
“I think we will utilize those (results) for the next steps in strategic planning and weave those into our visioning sessions,” said Ross.
“I think it is for (council) to process and for us to explore what is possible and achievable in the next little while.”
Council received the survey results as information.