Wednesday November 26, 2014

City Foundation Assessment helps council find service gaps


The City of Humboldt is facing the first step of change.
A summary of results from a Foundation Assessment Survey was presented to Humboldt City Council during a regular meeting on June 11.
The report was complied by Crosby Hann and Associates with Catterall and Wright Consulting Engineers, who were retained by the City of Humboldt to conduct a Community Foundation Assessment report.
“We are pretty pleased with the work the consultants did,” said Malcolm Eaton, mayor of Humboldt. “They got in touch with an awful lot of groups and organizations from the community.”
The consultants contacted groups and organizations from recreation, sports, community service, protective services, education, and healthcare to identify any issues the city might be facing as the City grows.
“Overall, I think the report is pointing us in a (new) direction, which is what we hoped it would do,” said Eaton. “There are some things in there that indicate what the community thinks the City should be doing.”
The summary pointed out concerns from all the different areas.  
The first issues the summary indicated could be a problem were in infrastructure.
“The review of the municipal infrastructure identified several capacity issues with the sanitary sewer system and storm sewer system that should be addressed in the short term,” the summary stated.
In addition to the short term issues, the report also indicated long-term concerns with the lagoon, sewage pump stations and storm sewer system.
Recreation providers gave their feedback to the City as well, indicating issues with communication breakdowns in booking ice time, increased demand on baseball diamonds, increased demand for indoor soccer facilities, lack of storage for user groups and developing a trail system for pedestrians, runners and cyclists were all important.
The needs facing recreation and sport groups were some of the needs the City knew it would be facing in the future, said Eaton.
Unlike the well-known needs of recreation and sports groups, the needs of the community service groups — such as Family Services — Partners Building Hope (Partners) and the Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre (HRNC) — and protective services were not as well known.
“Some of the areas that received a little more attention than we expected were certainly the important kind of issues that the RCMP have raised and the important issue that are being raised by Partners,” said Eaton.
The community service groups pointed out gaps when it comes to family violence services such as counselling and affordable transitional housing for both victims and people new to the community. Others gaps were lack of partnerships between urban and rural municipalities and lack of transportation system.
Protective services also found they are facing more problems as the city grows.
“The RCMP indicated that they are currently handling several tasks that would normally be assigned to other community service groups in a larger centre,” stated the summary.
Some of these tasks include mental health cases, child and family services and victim services.
“There are a whole bunch of services or programs that as a small community, not very far from Saskatoon, we aren’t always able to provide but given the growth that is going on in the community and the anticipated growth, we need to start looking at these things as being an important part of the services we are able to offer in our community because simply saying those services are offered in Saskatoon doesn’t work anymore,” said Eaton. “We need some of those services and programs to be housed and to be developed right here in Humboldt.”
Educational providers indicated a transportation system for students and current speed limit in schools zones and how noticeable the school zones are to motorists.
Healthcare also was not a surprise to council, with gaps seen in affordable housing for seniors, including care homes, and other senior facilities as well as doctor recruitment and retainment.  
Along with approaching groups and organizations in the community, the City also provided a survey for individuals to fill out.
“Overall, I think the report is pointing us in a direction, which is what we hoped it would do,” said Eaton. “There are some things in there that indicate what the community thinks the city.”
He explained it is the first step of a planning process for growth that the City has been doing for the last few years.
“It is a body of information that is helping us understand better how the community deals about where the needs are and where the challenges are as we go forward,” said Eaton. “Of course, the next stage is to have a bit of an open house, and that is where we hope to get a very good turn out Wednesday evening.”
The results of the report will be presented in a come and go open house on the evening of June 20 at the Uniplex.
“It is not a formal meeting as such — it is more of an opportunity to ask questions, discuss, offer some additional input to the process,” said Eaton. “From there, the important part is going to be the next steps and doing some further work, which we have already started on — recreation and cultural facilities, drawing out a long term plan for that, doing some further work on water and sewer and that kind of infrastructure work.”
They will also be working with Partners and the RCMP to deal with social issues in the City as well as the education and heathcare sectors.
“There are a lot of those areas that we are going to be trying to have better long-term goals,” said Eaton.
He also explained that city council will continue to engage the community with open house presentations.
“That is something I feel City Council feels strongly about,” said Eaton. “We need to continue this process with the community.”
The report also did some population projections in the study.
“They looked at different types of growth rates and what they would mean,” said Eaton.
According to their projections, using a one per cent increase per year for a 10 year trend and a 2.6 per cent increase for a five year trend.
“Over the next 10 years, the City of Humboldt could potentially reach 6,244 to 7,305 resident, based in historical growth trends,” stated the summary.
The report went on to say if there was an increase in migration, the City could potentially see and increase of 8,009 to 9,249 residents, based on growth rates of 3.5 and five per cent.
Eaton said the projections will also be helpful when council is making future decisions.



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