Dauna Grant, with the Vernon Public Art Gallery, discusses the VitalSigns survey with Dave Fletcher, of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan at the Performing Arts Centre Tuesday.

Dauna Grant, with the Vernon Public Art Gallery, discusses the VitalSigns survey with Dave Fletcher, of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan at the Performing Arts Centre Tuesday.

Community perceptions revealed

Vernon is generally considered average when it comes to tackling some critical community issues.

Vernon is generally considered average when it comes to tackling some critical community issues.

The results have been released on a VitalSigns survey, which saw 150 people apply grades on how they perceive agencies are addressing learning, seniors, the environment, health, housing, arts and culture, security, transportation, belonging and leadership, work and the gap between rich and poor.

“Overall, we are  somewhere between a B minus and a C minus,” said Marty Armstrong, with the  Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, which initiated the project.

“The community sees the community  as doing an adequate job but some key areas stuck out.”

Affordable housing was ranked as a C minus.

“People said Vernon is becoming unaffordable,” said Armstrong.

Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council, believes the report should encourage politicians and community groups to remain focused on housing.

“Affordability is still an issue and it will continue to be an issue when the economy picks up. The vacancy rate will drop again,” she said.

Arts and culture was given a B minus among respondents.

“It’s good to see people recognize a thriving arts community,” said Dauna Grant, with the Vernon Public Art Gallery.

“But it doesn’t reflect the funding levels organizations like galleries and museums are facing.”

Due to a funding cycle for provincial gaming grants, the gallery will lose $20,000 in 2012.

“We’re already budgeted tightly. Either we go to the city or have another fundraiser,” said Grant of making up the lost money.

In terms of safety and security, a C plus grade was issued.

“There is always room for improvement and we are working towards improvement,” said Supt. Reg Burgess, with the RCMP.

“Often we have to deal more with perceptions on crime than actual crime.”

Survey comments have been kept and will be available for organizations to look at. Copies of the report can be found at www.cfno.org or by calling 250-542-8677.

“The document will live for one, two or three years and then the next step is to update it — how are we doing now (with the issues),” said Armstrong.

 

 

Vernon Morning Star