Niagara-on-the-Lake’s inclusivity and diversity committee is looking for feedback to help steer its focus and initiatives through the next two years.
To do that, members of the committee have been working through several drafts of a survey that is now available online, to gain a better understanding of the people who make up the community, their experiences, and the diversity and inclusivity issues that exist in town, says committee member Richard Mell.
The survey is on the town’s website at Join the Conversation, and will be available until Feb. 5, with a summary of results expected to be provided to council in March.
The town committee, new to this term of council, had expected to hold a public forum early last year, similar to the one at the community centre held by the town’s wellness committee. When it was postponed by the pandemic, committee members decided to move forward with the survey to help them identify the key areas of concern in the NOTL community, says Mell.
“We hope to get an idea of some of the personal experiences people have had when it comes to all different forms of ‘isms,’ and areas where a group can feel particularly marginalized, to help us focus on some areas for the committee to move forward with some recommendations to council,” says Mell.
As an example, he mentions universal washrooms and other similar accessibility issues that might come to light.
Without the feedback that’s expected from the survey, he says, “our focus might be in some areas that are not as high a priority to the community.”
There are some “have you ever” questions, he says, as well as questions with boxes for people to elaborate where they feel comfortable.
Not all questions are compulsory, with the intention that people “will find their own comfort level with what they want to share with the committee.”
The survey requires registration, but email addresses will not be connected to answers, says Mell. At the end the survey asks if people are interested in participating in a focus group and at that point, if they agree, they will be asked for their email again.
Hopefully the focus groups to be developed as a follow-up to the survey will help the committee dig a little deeper into the identified issues, says Mell.
Committee members have been paving the way to the survey by networking with marginalized groups in town, “trying to create some connections. It’s key we get a diverse group of people answering the survey so we can have our focus directed to the right areas, and we’re hoping people will share their true and heartfelt feelings with their responses to these questions,” says Mell.
The survey is on Join the Conversation on the town’s website, at https://www.jointheconversation
Residents of the inclusivity and diversity committee are co-chairs Niki Walker and Jamie Knight, and committee Members Kiera Sangster, George Webber, Bex McKight, Virginia Head, and Richard Mell. Coun. John Weins is the council representative.