A study of change in one of Halton's municipalities, Oakville: A Community in Transition, contributes to our reflection and understanding of the complex times in which we live. I believe the concerns raised in this study transcend municipal boundaries and challenge us to reformulate how we think about a number of issues: human needs, citizen participation, community leadership, education and awareness, research and development, governance, voluntarism, and pressures on the not-for-profit sector such as adequate funding, commercialization of services and sustainability. For this reason, Community Dispatch presents the salient findings and conclusions of this community-based research. They challenge us to reflect on our work and the paths we take. Oakville: A Community in Transition grew out of a partnership between the United Way of Oakville and the Council and involved many individuals throughout the Oakville community: representatives of social agencies and business and cultural groups, government officials and community members.
We are living in times of great change. More and more is being asked from not-for-profit organizations that provide human services, while the stable funding base of those same agencies dwindles year after year. New social issues and community needs continue to emerge, calling for a response. What are they? What are their root causes? How and where should they be addressed?
Oakville: An Audit of a Community in Transition is an effort to understand and respond to "this time of great change", based on the ideas, concerns, questions, thoughts and experiences of individuals who live in Oakville, those of organizations that serve its residents and also on 1996 Census information in the following areas:
Some highlights of Census information captured in the report are shared below. Each of these demographic trends inform program development and social investment.
Through interviews with key informants, United Way funded agencies, as well as questionnaires sent to other community organizations, businesses and citizens, respondents fear services will not be able to keep up with these changes, and worry about the health and well-being of those individuals without financial means. Population growth, population aging, housing costs, public transit, and recreational opportunities are also highlighted as concerns. While there is general satisfaction with the performance of local government, concern about future economic development is identified. Respondents affirm the ongoing need to develop local business opportunities so that Oakville will not be dependent on one industry, nor on its status as a commuter community of Toronto. Environmental issues such as air and water quality are also very important to respondents who are virtually unanimous in identifying these as critical and continuing concerns
Two critical service gaps identified by respondents are:
Respondents also emphasize a number of areas of concern that they believe are in danger of being pushed off the public agenda. They deserve special consideration.
In the voices of the people who live and work in Oakville, we discern the following:
The understanding of these perceptions in all sectors of the Oakville community is one of the challenges of building a healthy Oakville. As daunting as the task may seem, action is already underway in the community toward this end, and much more that should be supported.
Oakville: An Audit of a Community in Transition
Produced by the Community Development Halton
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Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
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