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Report checks up on community

Nanaimo is getting a checkup as part of a new project that tests the health of the city.

The Nanaimo Foundation, the City of Nanaimo and the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island have banded together to launch Vital Signs, a new initiative that will check the pulse of the community’s quality of life and how people view their city.

According to those involved, community agencies have collected their own statistics on different sectors like health and security and this report will pull it all together. The aim is to create an overall outlook on trends in the Harbour City that not only highlights what’s being done right, but  key issues that might need solutions and investment.

Nanaimo is following suit of 26 other communities that did a Vital Signs report last year.

“The reason so many communities across Canada have picked up Vital Signs and gone with it is it’s a chance for all of us ... to gather our data together and do a report card that gives the community a bigger-view picture of what’s happening around the community,” said Signy Madden, executive director for United Way.

“I think it can identify issues or trends we weren’t seeing because we were maybe looking at one data set or one organization’s take on an issue. [Now] we are collaborating and bringing our information into one place.”

Researchers hired to do the $25,000 report card have already started to collect information.

Madden says once done, the report will not only be a tool to lobby for more funding from provincial or federal government and determine how best to invest, but will also educate the public about the key issues in the community and how it can help.

Tim Mawdsley, director with the Nanaimo Foundation, said his organization is looking to engage the community and is excited to take the next steps.

“Many organizations in the community will be able to make use of this for decision-making ... just as the foundation and the United Way and the city are looking forward to using it,” he said.

A public survey will be available in two weeks at www.nanaimofoundation.com for people to grade the health of their community. The report is scheduled to be released Oct. 7.

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