Vital Signs Report 2018 Digitized Version
WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD A PLACEWHERE EVERYONE BELONGS
About The County Foundation
Formed in 2008, The County Foundation (TCF) is one of 191 community foundations in Canada that have collective assets of over $5 billion. TCF is a registered charity dedicated to building a strong and vibrant Prince Edward County.
We do this by:
- Encouraging community-oriented philanthropy through the development of funds, legacies and bequests
- Making and managing grants that build community strength
- Conducting research to identify and prioritize fact-based community needs
- Leading collaborative action to address those needs
Our vision is to improve the lives of present and future generations in Prince Edward County by working together to build a place where people can reside, work and participate.
The County Foundation’s second Vital Signs Report is an evidence-based snapshot of the community at this point in time. It promotes awareness of community successes and challenges and what is being done to address them. It also identifies opportunities for further involvement, collaboration and support from within the community.
We have many strengths. Our rich heritage and culture, sense of pride, generosity of spirit and resilience have served us well for 225 years. In this current period of rapid change there is growth and prosperity for some but not for all. This report touches on collaborative initiatives to build a community where everyone can feel they belong.
Growing popularity has led to soaring house prices and a lack of affordable rental accommodation. A new not-for-profit housing corporation and two grassroots organizations are initiating projects to address this. The municipality is deliberating on regulating short-term rentals that are impacting our community.
Local businesses are optimistic about the future and plan to expand. However there is a mismatch of opportunities and skills in our workforce. A new collaborative initiative will help to close that gap. Lack of available and affordable (attainable) housing and inadequate public transit also affect employment, and solutions are planned. Agriculture is changing. There are fewer midsize operations and more “mega-farms.” However new small family farms are being established.
PEC’s median household income has increased but remains about 10% lower than Ontario’s. Housing, hydro, water and food costs are rising faster than incomes. Our data shows that while there are some high-income households in The County, the number of individuals who fall within the Low Income Measurement category has increased, and, in the case of seniors, has almost doubled since our 2013 Vital Signs Report.
An increase in obesity and continued smoking are of concern, and healthcare professionals are continuing to inform and educate on long-term impacts. There is increased awareness of the impact of mental health on our well-being and several projects are addressing the issue.
We are an aging population and this places demands on healthcare services. However we are recruiting new doctors and have initial approval to build a new hospital. We generally feel safe and crime rates are dropping. Our community-oriented police force and first-responders are addressing emergent concerns, including misuse of drugs. They work closely with healthcare professionals regarding calls involving mental health issues.
This is still a concern for too many in our bountiful County. Since our 2013 Vital Signs Report many effective projects have been working on this complex problem, and there is a system-wide collaborative initiative to begin dealing with the root causes.
The education data reflects challenges for all ages, and there are projects and programs underway working hard to address them. We report on some troubling achievement scores. The individual and collaborative projects striving to improve educational outcomes engage both youth and community partners, and they are starting to show results. School closures and consolidations affect many County families, and they may affect the decision of young families planning to move to the County. Innovative initiatives are underway to repurpose empty school buildings and surplus space to address housing as well as food security issues.
Getting around in our vast geography can be an obstacle in accessing affordable food and essential services, education, employment and recreation. Lack of transportation can also contribute to social isolation and a reduced sense of belonging. Stimulated by the 2013 Vital Signs Report, a number of agencies and organizations collaborated on planning an integrated affordable transportation system. This plan builds on existing modes of transportation and is now ready to roll out.
All of the issues we report on have an impact on our sense of belonging. While the majority of us report feeling satisfied with our lives, there is a decrease in our sense of community belonging. The actions and initiatives in the “What’s Being Done” sections that seek to address each issue may also help to restore this all-important feeling.
While recognizing the many challenges identified in this report, TCF is heartened by the progress that has been made on several fronts and is committed to taking a leadership role in working together with its many community partners and volunteers to build a County of shared prosperity where everyone belongs.
Purpose of the Report
This report provides evidence-based information about our community, its strengths and its challenges at this point in time and highlights the actions that are being taken to address them.
It is intended to:
- Engage the community to participate in building on the significant efforts already underway.
- Assist community organizations with their grant applications.
- Provide donors with information to make decisions on directing their donations.
- Guide The County Foundation’s granting process.
The data contained in this report is drawn from quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary sources. Statistical data was gathered from a variety of sources at the national, provincial and municipal levels, and from studies carried out by community and regional organizations. From the wealth of data surveyed and the input of our Advisory Committee, comprised of a team of leaders from local community organizations, and our Board we carefully chose our areas of study and selected indicators for them based on:
- availability and consistency of data
- reputation and reliability of the source
- how current the data was
- relevance to our community
- suitability of the data to be tracked for future comparisons
Qualitative data reflects the thoughts and opinions of County citizens as voiced at the Community Conversations held in the autumn of 2017 and from several studies and discussions carried out by community and regional organizations.
Some of the information is specific to Prince Edward County (shown in the report as PEC); some of it is combined with Hastings County (shown in the report as HPE). Sources of data included in the report are cited on the Selected Sources page and a complete listing of all sources reviewed for the report will be posted on The County Foundation website in the Vital Signs section.
We are most grateful to Community Foundations of Canada, to the community organizations who provided their statistics, reports and comments, and to all community members who participated in the Community Conversations, all of which informed the preparation of this report.