What sort of community programming do Whistlerites want? Some answers are starting to emerge through a survey being done by Learning Communities and the Chamber of Commerce.
"Were four months into the program and were beginning to see some trends," says Don Dewar, Director of Program Development for the chamber. "We have enough responses that we can accurately say, This is what the majority is saying."
Earlier this year, Learning Communities joined forces with the Chamber of Commerce to gather information on behalf of its nine partner organizations: Capilano College, Community Futures, Lilwat Nation, Millennium Place, Resort Municipality of Whistler, School District #48, Whistler Community Services Society, Whistler Public Library and the chamber itself.
The vehicle for this ambitious undertaking is a survey administered in conjunction with the new Whistler Card, a discount card for Whistler residents. Additional messaging concerning creating a better guest experience for resort visitors has also been incorporated into the project. Materials supporting this unique program reinforce that the card is a benefit to residents from local businesses in exchange for focusing on a better guest experience.
Since the launch of the program 700 cards have been bought and 300 people have completed the survey. Priced at $37 per year (or $20.10 for six months) the card gives users discounts of up to 25 per cent on various goods and service from more than 200 local businesses. As a condition of the Whistler Cards renewal, members are required to fill out the survey. The initial data, which started being collected mid-September, has been analyzed and has revealed some interesting and surprising demographic information.
Having the survey fully automated using state of the art statistics software is making exacting extrapolation of information possible, allowing the partners to "mine" the information in a variety of ways.
"We can find out what the women are thinking, what the men are saying what are the people 26 and older saying about a particular learning partner or particular program," Dewar says. "The power of the development for the questions really starts to come together."
The digital nature of the project also serves to support Learning Communities mandate.
"One of the objectives within the Learning Communities project was to incrementally increase, via electronic means, awareness of the partners and their initiatives," says Stephanie Wells, Learning Communities Project Co-ordinator. "Were finding the number of people asking for more information on programs has been overwhelming."
Aside from demonstrating that Whistler is a community that values engagement, the survey is revealing some assumption-challenging data. Some of the demographic information Wells and Dewar cite as surprising: