Vital Signs takes pulse of community

Winkler Community Foundation's Phillip Vallelly put out a challenge to the community at the launch of the second annual Vital Signs report. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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A report measuring the stats of Winkler has come out and is available for viewing.

Vital Signs is a report put out by the Winkler Community Foundation that grades the city on various categories, from standard of living to health to participation and belonging.

This is the second Vital Signs report, the first having come out in 2012.

Winkler received mostly Bs in this report, but received Cs in getting around, housing and standard of living.

The report compiled input from 687 local residents who completed a survey (either online or at various community locations) in June.

“I think the first Vital Signs really paved the way for us,” Winkler Community Foundation board president Scott Doell said. “Some of the data is definitely interesting, there’s a few things that maybe we didn’t report on last time… but overall they paved a good path for us to follow.”

Doell said reports will be sent out to the R.M. and city of Winkler, and reports will be available at the Civic Centre as well.

“The goal is to start a conversation with it,” he said. “If there’s a stat in there that’s interesting, if you have a chance to talk at coffee or talk to the neighbour about it, that’s really what we want this to do.”

The report offered some alarming, eye-opening facts.

The city only has enough designated affordable housing units for one in five families. One in three elderly women in the community fall below the poverty line, which is more than two times higher than the provincial average.

Voter turnout for municipal elections is very low, with only four out of ten eligible voters turning out for Winkler and two out of ten for the R.M. of Stanley.

The news wasn’t all bad, though. The report found that the area is extremely generous, with local residents giving at a rate five times higher than the Canadian average, and 30 per cent more people in the region give than across Canada.

Vital Signs community volunteer Phillip Vallelly said the community took some positive steps after the last report came out. “We have on good authority that our city used it widely in terms of recruitment within our community,” he said. “We also are aware that different organizations used the report to help support some of the initiatives that were taken.”

Vallelly said WCF’s goal will be to put out this report every other year.

WCF administrative coordinator Karina Cardona Claros said the organization tried to focus on the human aspect of the community.

“Nobody only lives one aspect of life,” she said. “It’s a holistic perspective. In the report itself, when people will look through it, they’ll probably see themselves first because we’re human and we tend to do that. It’s comparative, you can actually see how others are doing.”

“It also probably brings to peoples’ minds inaction,” she added. “Because if you’re contributing to it in some way, what are you also not doing that could be done? That’s the idea behind Vital Signs, is that it’s a snapshot so you can get a general overview.”

At the unveiling of the report, Vallelly put out a challenge to the community. “Within your organization, I would challenge you to have a mission that actually matters,” he said. “Have a mission that means something. Missions statements are great… but if it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.”

“We live in an age when there’s so much opportunity,” he added. “We may be growing, but we have lots of growing pains. With growing pains there are some positive things, some negative things… we need to figure out as a community, as we continue to grow, how we actually can do that.”

To get a copy of the report, additional information or alternative formats (text only, etc.) visit