News Crime, cost of living top list of regional concerns: Vital Signs SHARE ON: Michael Lumsden, staff Tuesday, Oct. 8th, 2019 Community Foundation of Northwest Alberta CEO Tracey Vavrek reading the 2019 Vital Signs Report (Michael Lumsden, mygrandeprairienow.com staff) Crime, cost of living and quality of roads are among the top three concerns for people from the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie and MD of Greenview according to the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta 2019 Vital Signs Report. With motor vehicle theft up 35.6 percent in the city and 21.7 percent in the county, Community Foundation of Northwest Alberta CEO Tracey Vavrek says it’s not surprising that it was a clean sweep for crime atop the list of greatest concerns. “It continues to be a conversation that is a concern from our local citizens and we also as well see the statistics are mirroring the concerns.” Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says nothing really jumped out at him when it comes to the wants and needs of residents in the city, but says overall he feels the community at large is taking social needs very seriously. “Policing cost is one of the largest portions of our budgets and continues to be a focus for city council. We increased our spending on road rehab and overlay in 2019 and so I think that demonstrates that the council is allignment with the top priorities of the community,” he says. “It was more interesting for me to look at what some of those middle priorities are, [like] poverty, homelessness, and affordable housing. I think it demonstrates that communities are complex entities that take a lot of layers to get right,” he adds. Despite concerns about crime, 73 percent of respondents say the City of Grande Prairie is a great place to raise a family. That same sentiment is shared by 82 percent in the County of Grande Prairie and 77 percent in the MD of Greenview. Vavrek says one of the changes that stand out change from 2017 report, is the discussion of inclusion and diversity. She says it continues to create quite a buzz. “When I look at things like inclusion and diversity, we have to have a further understanding of what inclusion is, and opportunities for our community as well. How do we shift and ensure we are welcoming and we have that sense of belonging because we can’t leave people behind.” She says the thought of newcomers to the area not feeling at home remains a concern for her, and many in the region. “It’s why we are being so bold in saying do not leave anyone behind because we need everyone in our community, we are all one community.” In all, 2,138 regional residents over the age of 15 responded to the vital signs survey. The Vital Signs Report is released every two years.