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Community survey to map area assets, determine needs

Results will paint a picture of which groups need to work together

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The forecast for a "social deficit" mirrors Whistler's increasing community needs, and reflects an area of action that will have to keep pace with demand, according to the head of the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW).

CFOW executive director Carol Coffey cited a report from last month that warns of a Canadian social deficit of more than $20 billion if we continue to see a rise in community service demands.

The report from economist Brian Emmett at Imagine Canada outlines the increasing roles that charities and non-profits will have to play by the year 2026.

"What is happening on a national scale is also relevant to Whistler," said Coffey. "People are more stressed, more in debt, struggling more."

The Community Foundation has designed an online survey to address the surge in use and to determine the best course of action for local groups, organizations and services, but to also assess needs and map the community assets.

"What we've seen is reflective in our Vital Signs report — community services have seen a 70-per-cent increase in demand over the last several years," she said.

Specifically, the online survey is designed to explore how non-profits can work together more effectively.

"When we were doing the research for Vital Signs, I counted approximately 90 different community groups in Whistler, which is astounding to me," said Coffey. "It's phenomenal, it indicates we are a vibrant, participatory community but also that nobody knows exactly who they are, or who's out there. It would be very helpful to get a handle on who is in the community, what are they working on, what is their mission, who might they be partnering with."

The online survey, which is open until Dec. 5, will also look at the best way for various groups to interact.

"What we were hearing from many groups was they have challenges over finding space... so then this led to the idea that maybe non-profits can come together to share space to make it more efficient. There could be efficiencies by creating a non-profit hub," Coffey said.

The survey is available online at www.whistlerfoundation.com and any group that provides programming in Whistler — whether based in Whistler or elsewhere — can participate.

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