By Nikki Jamieson
The town is one step closer to crafting a strategic plan, after reviewing the results of a recent survey.
The survey, sent out with the November town newsletter, sought community input in crafting a new strategic plan for the Town of Vauxhall.
“It’s just interesting to see what people have to say,” said Margaret Plumtree, Vauxhall mayor. “It’s nice when we get comments.”
A total of 25 surveys were sent back to the town — with 21 respondents living within town limits and four living within the Municipal District of Taber — and the results were discussed during Vauxhall town council’s Jan. 4 regular meeting. Although not everyone answered all the questions, some of the highlights of the survey were;
• Schools and Rural Support for the town were considered of the highest importance, with 21 respondents listing them as important with one and three respondents respectfully saying they were neutral on the subject. Although 16 people thought having a business centre was important, two respondents said it wasn’t important with three people being neutral on the subject, and 12 people thought serviced residential lots were important, although one disagreed and 10 were neutral. Only 11 respondents thought having a fitness centre was important, while 10 were neutral about it.
• 19 respondents wanted the town to keep the potato mascots, with two people saying having a mascot was not important under ideas/suggestions for the mascots, and one person saying they needed paint.
• Respondents were neutral about the town pursuing sports tourism training, with six saying it was important, five saying not important and six being neutral about it.
• For capital projects, respondents thought that sidewalks, road paving and water/sewer upgrades should be prioritized, having each received 18 important votes and three, two and three neutral votes respectfully, and road paving receiving one unimportant vote. Paving the community centre parking area was deemed the lowest priority, with residents indicating that 10 thought it as important, five not important and five being neutral, along with having a fitness centre, with residents indicating that 10 thought it was important, two not important, and nine being neutral.
• Residents though that getting water/sewer upgrades was worth having a tax increase for the project, with 7 residents willing to pay up to $25, two for $50-75, one for $1, one for $100 and one person not wanting an increase. Not one resident was not willing to support a tax increase to pay for revitalizing the business centre in town, although 11 had indicated in a previous question that they thought it was important, with two respondents willing to pay up to $25, one for $50-75 and one person not willing to pay anything.
• Five residents thought the town needed more hotels/motels.
• Five residents thought that Vauxhall’s population dynamics were a major obstacle for the town’s future. Only one person for each following category thought that community support, jobs, high taxes, local economy, oil industry support, no community support for the local rink and high prices thought those were obstacles.
• Three respondents thought that the local schools/sports facilities were major advantages for the community, and only one person for each following category thought that the regional connection/M.D. of Taber, access to Highway 36/larger centres, parks, starting at the bottom, academy, quiet/safe relatively cheap community, complex and little criminal activity were pluses.
• A majority of two residents thought that the own should look for more business opportunities, and two residents believed that in terms of technology, the town needs better Internet.
• Respondents also asked if the town has a long term plan for sidewalks, dealing with unsightly and unfinished homes and businesses, how council can support community better without raising taxes, handicap entrances to buildings and getting more effective policing in the area.
Looking through the respondents, there was a little confusion when council read the number ‘100’ under sewer upgrades — with one thinking it was a typo before another pointed out that they probably meant $100 — administration cleared that up, with Melinda Dunphy, assistant CAO and office manager for the town, adding that the respondent had written “Yes please” alongside it.
“Well, if you ever had a sewer back-up, I think you would be throwing 100 bucks (at it in taxes),” said Richard Phillips, Vauxhall councillor, on the costly problem.
Another item of interest was that a couple of people wanted a Tim Hortons in town. Two people had remarked in the survey that the town needed one, out of the 17 replies to the question, ‘What kind of business do you think we need’, along with a few comments.
“It’s a little bit beyond our control,” said Plumtree. “But like I say, it’s the same when I did that business survey one… you know, it’s to think to the future, like what do people want, and if you know what they want, you can try to make it happen.”
Plumtree said that she didn’t think the town taxes were “bad”, pointing out that communities like Nobleford, who have low taxes, didn’t have amenities like community halls and pools. It was also each individual business’ decision on whether to have a handicap-accessible entrance, as it was the responsibility of whoever owns the building, adding that it would be a “good idea, to make it more accessible”. There is also the possibility of reviving Citizens on Patrol with the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP, if they could get enough interest in the town. She also requested more information on another request in the survey, for the town to make it easier for small businesses to operate, as she didn’t believe that the statement was clear enough.
“One of the things that I’ve found, in my new role that I work in, is that everyone in business wants someone else to make their business grow, but they’re not willing to do the work,” said Plumtree. “Is that what they’re wanting? In which case, it’s your business, I can’t make it grow for you. But, if there’s something we’re missing in town, to make that happen besides, residents and all that kind of stuff.”