Stanstead Survey Results
The first results of the Stanstead survey of residents were released this week. It is an analysis of the ‘closed’ questions of the survey; the analysis of the more than ten open-ended questions will be announced soon. The questions for the survey were written from the results of eight discussion groups that were held: 6 in Stanstead (2 in each sector), and one discussion group each with teens at Alexander Galt High School and at La Ruche high school.
The rate of response was 16.9%: 216 survey forms were filled out, not more than one survey per household. “The different age groups were well-represented, however, ladies answered the survey more than men,” commented Joanne Lajeunesse McKay, the business development agent who is working with the town to create a Strategic Plan. 69% of respondents were female although females represent 50% of the population here.
A smaller percentage of Rock Island sector residents filled out the form: only 21% of the forms were filled out by Rock Island residents who represent actually 32% of the Stanstead population. 57% of respondents work; 29% are retired; 3% are students and 11% are other. 50% of respondents have French as their mother tongue while 49% are English mother tongue.
The majority were proud to call Stanstead home: 86%. 66% thought the people here were likable, 59% said the appearance of the town is improving. 191 of the 214 respondents believe that there is a loss of pride in the town because of the abandoned downtown sector (63%), poorly maintained properties (65%), and because many residents don’t work. The unemployment rate was 8% in 2006 and the activity rate of people 15 years and older was at 57.2% in the last census, almost 4 percentage points below the average.
Citizens believe Stanstead has a bad reputation in the media (52%) and in the high schools (36%).
Local attractions were visited by respondents at the following rate: Haskell (70%); Arena (68%); Weir Park (50%); ColbyCurtis Museum (41%); Stone Circle (32.5%); Granite Museum (32.5%).
Respondents believe that the needs of 18 to 49 year-olds are not being met by the town as well as the needs of children and semi-retired and retired people. Some believe the high school drop-out rate can be reduced through homework programs (65%) and through more sports activities (48%). However, the parents of school age children believe that the most significant factor to decrease the high school drop-out rate is the reduction of the amount of time the students spend on the bus. “The kids we spoke with, and the parents agreed, that the long time spent travelling was difficult. Some spend 1 ½ hours going to school and 1 ½ hours coming back, with the buses stopping first in Waterville and Ayer’s Cliff. Sometimes there are three students per bench,” explained Ms. McKay about this important issue. 48% of respondents know someone who would like to improve their situation by taking high school courses or post-secondary courses. Health Services
Only 15% of respondents are satisfied with the health services offered in Stanstead. 31% believe there aren’t adequate health services while 54% believe “more or less” that there are adequate health services. Most (91%) were open to the idea of a health co-op, 46% thought it was urgent, 46% thought it was a good idea and 8% thought it wasn’t necessary. 48% are ready to pay $50 annually, per individual, or $100 per family to maintain a health co-op while 32% are not ready to pay for this and 20% are undecided.
When it comes to recreation, 43% wanted much more access to the Tomifobia River, 27% wanted a little more access, and 9% were not interested in more access to the river. Respondents were absolutely split in their support of the Stone Circle Park with 50% wanting more development there. The bicycle path is used by 64% of the respondents.
A little more than two thirds of respondents want the town to enforce the regulations on building maintenance while 72% definitely want the town to demolish unsafe and unhealthy buildings. For heritage buildings, 68% believe the town should support property owners, 31% want more regulations, and 16% want the town to invest public money to preserve heritage buildings. Transport
27% of respondents need transportation to Magog; 21% to Sherbrooke; and 15% need transportation to get around Stanstead. Transport systems already in place seem underused at 10% for taxis, 2% using Transport des alentours, and 3% using the CAB’s services.
For 70% it is important to live in Stanstead. 55% work in Stanstead, 5% in Magog, 4% in Sherbrooke, and 6% elsewhere in the Townships. Jobs are wanted in business (30%), Tourism (29.5%), Manufacturing (26.4%), Education (25.6%), and Health and Social Services (22.5%).
Most of the respondents (86%) believe in Stanstead as a tourist destination.
Of the 214 respondents, 4% have lived here less than a year, 14% from one to five years, and 72% for more than ten years.
“We should finish the analysis of the survey by the end of the month and the next step will be to use this information and begin working on the strategic plan,” said Ms. McKay.
Stanstead’s business development agent, Joanne Lajeunesse McKay, spoke at Monday night’s council meeting about the results of the town survey.