More than 200 people have so far completed a major survey that aims to find out what Niagara-on-the-Lake residents’ housing needs and desires are as they age.
The comprehensive online survey is a key research tool that a committee of residents is using to determine what sort of housing options people need in town.
As of Monday, 214 people had filled out the survey, an impressive number for the first two weeks, said researcher Steve Ferley, one of the people helping the ad hoc residents committee take the pulse of NOTL seniors.
But “we’d really like to get double that number,” Ferley said in an interview.
The more people who complete the survey, the better the data and the more comprehensive the project’s outcome, no matter what the data shows.
“We’re not trying to promote any particular agenda,” Ferley said. “We are trying to measure what people want.”
As a researcher, he aims to “let the data speak because it will let us know what people want.”
More than half of NOTL’s population of 19,000 is over the age of 55 and many residents have concerns about what housing options will be available as they get older
That’s where the online questionnaire comes in.
It is available in a variety of forms, including a QR code that people can click on by using their smartphone camera or a direct link to the survey via https://forms.office.com/r/NGNVQ11SZd.
As well, anyone without internet access or who has trouble accessing the survey can call 905-468-7498 for help.
Details of the survey are being published in The Lake Report and NOTL Local, posters are being put up around town and business cards promoting the research are being distributed to remind people to complete the survey.
Ferley and fellow researcher Michael Ennamorato worked with the committee and with Niagara College to develop the questionnaire.
“We want an objective, unbiased measure of the situation,” Ferley said. “We don’t know what people want yet.”
No personal identifying details will be collected and responses will be anonymous.
The group has partnered with the Niagara College School of Business, Prof. Nick Farnell and a team of graduate students in the business analytics program to collect and analyze the results, in conjunction with Ferley and Ennamorato.
Cindy Grant, spokesperson for the residents group that got the ball rolling on the survey, said she’s repeatedly hearing from people in the community who welcome the project and want to have their say.
“I was at a Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday and reminded people not to forget to fill out the survey,” she said.
She was then “mobbed” by members who wanted one of the business cards so they could do the survey.
Besides Grant, the committee that inspired the survey includes Robert Bader, Al Bisback, Fran Boot, Bill Halpenny, Sandra Hardy, Terry Mactaggart, Sandra O’Connor, Tom Smith, Tim Taylor and Peggy Walker.
“The whole intent of the survey is to put hard numbers to it, rather than just anecdotes” about what some people think the community might need, Grant said.
“Right now, all we’re doing is assessing the need, the level of need,” she added.
“First, we have to quantify the demand so that we can get the attention of the town, the region, developers and whoever else has a stake in this. Then we’ll start talking about solutions.”
With the professional bona fides of Niagara College, plus Ferley and Ennamorato supporting the survey, she is confident that the results will be taken seriously – no matter what they show.
Ennamorato said it is crucial to approach the research with no preconceived notions about what people want.
Everyone is different and even individuals in the same household might have divergent opinions, he added.