And now the analysis begins.
Fieldwork for the survey of Niagara-on-the-Lake seniors’ future housing options closed Sunday and all told nearly 600 people answered the online poll.
“We’re happy to report that the final sample is extremely robust, with 587 NOTLers aged 55 or over completing the questionnaire,” said Steve Ferley, one of the researchers with the project.
“That number is considerably higher than the original survey target,” he noted.
When the survey launched late in the fall, Ferley and fellow research professional Michael Ennamorato said they hoped at least 400 seniors would provide information about their housing needs as they age.
The survey organizers expect data analysis to show the relative importance of various factors in NOTL seniors’ housing needs – both in the next few years and over the longer term.
“We want to thank the 587 NOTLers who took the time and effort to fill out the online questionnaire,” said Ferley.
“Your input will help enormously to provide objective guidance in this important area.”
Now, Niagara College Prof. Nick Farnell and his post-grad students will move into the data analysis stage together with Ennamorato and Ferley.
The first part of the analysis will be to get an in-depth understanding of how the sample breaks down according to the various NOTL communities, and how it’s made up within other demographic elements such as age, gender and financial aspects, Ferley noted.
All those pieces of information will then be compared with secondary census data from Statistics Canada both across NOTL as a whole and within the individual NOTL communities, he said.
The initial stage of understanding the sample happens before delving into the survey data. Later data mining exercises will address questions such as: Do people want to stay in their current NOTL community? Are they OK with moving to a different community, so long as it’s still in NOTL?
Or maybe they’re looking at somewhere else entirely. What type of residence are they considering for the future?
Do Old Town residents’ plans and desires differ from people in other NOTL communities? Do downsizing patterns differ by community, age, gender or financial resources?
The questions are endless, Ferley said, “so the larger the sample, the greater the opportunity for analyzing the diverse options that may emerge.”
The college has access to a wealth of Statistics Canada data, including NOTL census information and figures from other official studies. That can dovetail into the new survey data to yield as complete a picture as possible, Ferley said.
The survey originated from a committee of interested residents who recognized that quantified and objective data was required, he said.
“The findings will be valuable not only for NOTL specifically but also the broader Niagara region and elsewhere.”
“Many companies in the seniors’ housing field obviously do their own research. But the new survey may well give them fresh insights specific to NOTL. The information can help both their corporate operations and NOTL residents,” Ferley added.
The committee that inspired the survey includes Robert Bader, Al Bisback, Fran Boot, Cindy Grant, Bill Halpenny, Sandra Hardy, Terry Mactaggart, Sandra O’Connor, Tom Smith, Tim Taylor and Peggy Walker.
The committee wants to understand the evolving requirements of seniors and what they need to maintain their quality of life as they get older, Grant said in November when the survey was launched.
“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,” she said.
Now that the data is about to be analyzed, Grant offered a “huge thanks” to all those who took the time to do the survey.
She hopes the information gleaned can help the town, builders, senior housing companies and others meet the needs of the community.
Once the results are known this spring, the details will be unveiled at a public forum, Grant said.
And then, “I think we’ll need to have conversations with the town, with the housing folks at the region, with developers.”