Squamish, B.C. is a vibrant, growing community located in the heart of Sea to Sky Country, one hour north of Vancouver. Nestled between ocean and mountains the small-town setting, spectacular natural environment, and unmatched outdoor recreation make for a lifestyle and location for business investment few places can offer. Squamish also boasts a flourishing and diverse arts and culture scene, Quest University Canada, and exciting waterfront development projects, with a diverse economic base ranging from tourism and wellness to forestry and manufacturing.
A dedicated and passionate local population strives to protect the fragile ecosystem that is at the heart of what characterizes this adventure-centric outdoor lifestyle. While economic development efforts focus on clean energy, recreation technology, and the knowledge-based industries.
Within this equally humble and exciting community exists a forward-thinking group of people dedicated to setting up Squamish for years of future success. In the summer of 2016, City and District put forth the initial ideas in what would ultimately become the strategic framework for the community’s next 20 years. After two years of hard work and the involvement of hundreds of Squamish residents, the District of Squamish adopted its Official Community Plan (OCP) 2040 on June 5th, 2018.
A vision wasn’t enough for this project – with timelines surpassing two decades, it was important to ensure organization and accountability in many different areas, involving varying people. The District had been paying attention to other communities across the nation with similar aspirations for a few years.
In the communities of St. Albert and Edmonton in particular, web-based systems were being used to inform and educate local residents, on the strength of strong data collection and analysis. Citizens knew what their governments were working towards, and could use the data themselves in their own dealings.
The district decided that creating an online Squamish-specific dashboard would be an integral component of its OCP 2040 strategy. Data collection strategies were put in place for key OCP indicators, and Economic Development Open Data was also utilized. But they needed the technology to put everything together.
The Townfolio Community Performance Dashboard provides value on many different levels. It operates as both an internal tracking tool and as an external communication device. The data provided by the dashboard helps Squamish track progress towards various OCP initiatives, has helped to facilitate evidence-based decision making and internal accountability. By aggregating many different sources of data into a single, comprehensive tool, data analysis is a much easier process. Now, Squamish is better positioned to make quality decisions in areas that “focus on the five goals expressed within the OCP – Resilience, Livability, Health, Connectedness, and Engagement. It highlights identified measures pertaining to the environment, the economy and jobs, growth management, transportation, civic engagement, and open government.”
The Dashboard also enabled Squamish to make its reporting more dynamic. Multiple, detailed OCP indicators are presented in a way that could be easily understood and accessed by citizens. With easy access to the Dashboard, citizens are empowered to use the data for their own initiatives and to better understand the accomplishments of their local government.
The Townfolio Community Performance Dashboard represents a significant step forward in the District of Squamish’s dedication to data. Data is regularly being incorporated into daily and long-term operations. Though data has been collected by Squamish for many years in some cases, reporting has much stronger rigour as a result of the Dashboard.
Staff from multiple departments, as well as Council and the greater community, all have the same access to the same data presented in the same way. This consistency of approach has had a significantly positive impact on District decision-making moving forward.
The Dashboard also has an economic development impact. Local businesses have greater access to business intelligence, which encourages new growth through investment. It also helps the community to make policy recommendations, improve processes, and track progress on their own initiatives.
The Townfolio Community Performance Dashboard is a significant component of the Squamish 2040 OCP strategy. The District of Squamish knows the important role data and technology will play in the next two decades and is investigating other avenues. In addition to using EMSI Analyst, ESRI Story Mapping and podcasting are being considered in an effort to further improve and increase engagement with community residents. Ultimately, Squamish aims to continually improve access to data, make that data real-time and open, and provide opportunities for the public to utilize that data themselves.
Squamish 2040 OCP is underway. We’re excited to see (and help measure) its success in the future! #Squamish2040
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