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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Community group plans independent survey on NOTL housing needs
Cindy Grant is one of the driving forces behind a new group interested in finding out the housing needs of Niagara-on-the-Lake residents as they age in place. FILE

A group of concerned residents is joining forces with Niagara College students to assess the housing challenges faced by seniors in Niagara-on-the-Lake and explore a range of possible solutions.

A comprehensive survey will be conducted from mid-November through early January to gather insights from residents aged 55 and up.

One goal of the survey is to understand the evolving needs of seniors and what is required to maintain their quality of life as they age.

“Many other communities are grappling with the same issue,” the group’s convener, Cindy Grant, said in announcing the project.

“Niagara-on-the-Lake has one of the highest percentages of aging seniors in the country, many of whom wish to remain in our community, but the options are limited.”

Grant said there are “multiple stakeholders” who need to understand the housing challenge and its consequences.

“This includes the town, developers, senior housing companies and more. We want them to hear the needs of our community.”

The survey, conducted in partnership with The Lake Report and other media, will be available both online and through alternative methods for those without internet access.

Last spring, some members of the group began discussing the issue, believing there is a growing demand for senior housing options in the community.

Besides Grant, the group includes Robert Bader, Al Bisback, Fran Boot, Bill Halpenny, Sandra Hardy, Terry Mactaggart, Sandra O’Connor, Tom Smith, Tim Taylor, and Peggy Walker.

After months of discussions with regional and town officials, the group recognized the importance of measuring the problem to better understand the challenges and identify potential solutions.

Two survey research professionals who live in Niagara-on-the-Lake – Steve Ferley and Michael Ennamorato – have volunteered their time and expertise to develop a comprehensive, survey to independently determine NOTL’s senior housing needs.

Both men have extensive national senior management experience in building, mounting and analyzing opinion surveys.

To ensure the survey reaches as many seniors as possible, the group partnered with the Niagara College School of Business and a team of graduate students in the business analytics program.

Under the guidance of Prof. Nick Farnell, students will shape the survey questions into an online tool and then collect and analyze the results, working in co-operation with Ferley and Ennamorato.

By April 2024, the collected data and analytics are expected to be available for widespread dissemination and action.

Grant is optimistic.

“We’re hopeful that we can both understand the challenge and begin the process of offering solutions to our seniors’ housing challenge. But that’s just the beginning.”

“We also aim to rally the broader community to take action, making it a shared, collective mission.”

Here’s how the research will work:

• The survey will be available through The Lake Report and other media using QR codes and URL weblinks. Information posters will be placed in high-traffic areas to promote completion of the survey.

  • Provisions will be made for seniors without internet access to do in-person interviews or access the survey at the NOTL library.

• The survey will be available from mid-November through early January.

• No personally identifying information will be collected. All data will be anonymous, kept confidential and protected by industry-standard data protection and security mechanisms. Information will be reported in aggregate form only.

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