The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) will work with local communities to identify social service gaps in the area.
The engagement process will include workshops, interviews, focus groups, a community survey and elected official workshops. Most engagement will be through virtual technology except for some focus groups where technology is a barrier to participation, according to the RDN.
“You need to know what the services being provided are — what the gaps are, if you’re going to lobby the province and the federal government,” said Kim Fowler, RDN manager for long range planning.
The budget for the social needs and assessment strategy is $186,000, including a $125,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).
Director Ed Mayne questioned why the RDN was taking on the cost of the project and not the province. “We got to stop spending money on reports that aren’t going anywhere or make a change,” he said.
Fowler added the regional district provides services, such as recreation and parks and provides statistics on issues such as housing, to the provincial government.
Public engagement is the first step in the RDN’s plan to assess social needs including transportation, childcare, education, affordable and healthy food, recreational opportunities, housing supports, community belonging and physical environments.
“It’s critical we get this information. Ultimately, it’s about planning strong, inclusive communities and that requires gathering information,” said Director Mark Swain.
The social needs and assessment strategy involves a partnership between the RDN, the Town of Qualicum Beach, the District of Lantzville, the City of Nanaimo and the Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee. Qualicum, Snaw-Naw-As and Snuneymuxw First Nation representatives will be contacted to determine how they will participate.