Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:20

Vital Signs report features section on Brooks

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This year’s Vital Signs report, created by the Community Foundation of South East Alberta (CFSEA), includes for the first time, a special section on statistics about the City of Brooks.

The foundation represents the southeast corner of Alberta, helping create endowment funds which see the principle grow and the interest earned be returned to the communities it serves through grants.
The annual Vital Signs report, completed by community foundations across Canada, is meant to gather statistics about the area it serves, into one handy document which can be used by organizations or municipal officials in the year to come.
“For awhile we had been thinking about broadening Vital Signs appeal, but the problem is a lack of resources,” says Mike Christie, executive director for the foundation.
Data in Vital Signs is gathered from other sources such as public government agencies like the City of Medicine Hat, City of Brooks or Elections Alberta and organizations such as social service agencies or the public library.
“The fact is, Statistics Canada does not produce detailed statistics from the census on smaller, rural communities,” says Christie.
Vital Signs ensures the data source is reliable and verifiable. It is the only document which compiles statistical information about the southeast corner into one place. It can then be used to help form an overall perspective about an issue or be useful in decision making.
By nature of the data sources available, the information in Vital Signs is often of a more broad nature. For example health statistics are only available from AHS for the South Zone now, which represents all of southern Alberta from Calgary south to the U.S. border. Economic stats such as employment are also more regional, based on the Medicine Hat-Lethbridge corridor.
“It has always been our desire (to include Brooks) and we will try to keep that up if we can,” says Christie about future reports … There are some differences between us (Brooks and Medicine Hat) and it helps us understand the challenges between us.”
There are two new board members from the City of Brooks this year — Don Weisbeck and Tiffany Krinke.
Weisbeck says he is glad to see Vital Signs contain a Brooks section this year.
“I think it will be useful,” he says.
“We think the … whole document is good no matter where (you live),” says Christie. “I think it’s fair to say the report tries to reflect the quality of life that exists in this area.”
Over the years, Christie has found the report is used in a variety of ways.  Municipal officials are encouraged to make use of the information and some politicians choose to use it as a base for their speeches while other officials use it to help in grant writing.
“We’re putting the information in people’s hands to do with it as they wish,” he adds. “We do it at the community foundation for internal reasons, but we’re delighted when others can use it.”
“I think there are some good statistics there, for example even I didn’t know the large number of wells in the area,” adds the former mayor.
Vital Signs includes a lot of different information around topics such as agriculture and also has an emphasis on youth.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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