Have you ever wondered what the average income level is in your community? Are you curious about how it compares with neighbouring communities, or with other rural areas in BC? Are you eager to know how environmental conditions are changing in the region?
This kind of information can be difficult to find and interpret without a lot of effort. Given the rapid pace of change in today's society, it is more important than ever to have access to current and reliable information.
Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is responding to this demand for information. The State of the Basin initiative is testing a model for monitoring and reporting on social, environmental, economic, and cultural indicators and trends in the CBT area (the Basin - see Basin Map).
By providing accessible, credible information, the intent is to make it easier for Basin residents, communities, and organizations to know more about the area and to use upto- date local information in planning and decision-making.
This report is accompanied by a website containing raw data and other information links as well as contacts for support. CBT will also support some pilot planning efforts in the Basin that incorporate the use of information.
CBT invites you to explore this model of indicator reporting in the Basin.
Indicators are factors that can be measured to provide information and clues about conditions in complex systems.
We already use indicators every day. For example, most people are familiar with indicators such as stock market indexes, unemployment rates, and water quality coliform counts.
These examples illustrate how indicators inform us about current conditions, but not about why any changes have happened. They prompt us to ask questions and learn more in order to fully understand what is happening and what the implications might be for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
An indicator report compiles information for a number of selected indicators and often assesses the trends over time to signal positive or negative changes compared to a set of desired conditions.
Most large urban cities and government agencies in Canada prepare indicator reports. Both the Islands Trust in the Gulf Island area and the Fraser Basin Council, somewhat similar organizations to CBT, have indicator reporting processes. Within the Basin, indicator reporting is being used in Golden, Revelstoke, and Castlegar and other communities are considering this approach to tracking community trends.
Basin communities, organizations, and residents have requested a number of alternative ways to swiftly access up-to-date information and use this information in planning and decision-making. The State of the Basin initiative consists of three components. Further details for each of these components are in the pages that follow.
|BASIN-WIDE INDICATOR REPORT||Print and web-based indicator report, monitoring conditions in the Basin and in local areas.|
|WEB-BASED LINKS||On-line links to information about the Basin that are
available from existing sources such as BC Stats,
Stats Canada, local governments, community
On-line access to raw data and analysis completed for the indicators in the Basinwide report, at the smallest geographic scale available to support further analysis and reporting for smaller areas.
|SUPPORT||Contacts and specialists to provide advice and assistance with accessing, interpreting and using data. Providing support to planning efforts in the Basin that incorporate the use of information.|
Indicator reporting can have many uses. The State of the Basin model of indicator reporting hopes to:
As an organization, CBT can use the reporting information as one tool to support its own strategic thinking, planning decisions and program implementation and to improve accountability by being better informed about Basin conditions.
The model for indicator reporting in the Basin is grounded in a thorough review of models used elsewhere, using promising attributes and common pitfalls to guide its design. A working group of Basin residents and a team of technical advisors provided input on the model and on the indicators that would be relevant in the Basin. These have been invaluable touchstones as the model developed.
The framework for indicators in the Basin is shown (diagram below). It follows the lead of successful approaches used elsewhere while reflecting on circumstances that are specific to the Basin. This framework helps to explain how indicators are organized in this report and hopes to make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for.
Provincial and federal government agencies, local governments, interest groups and others provide a great deal of information about the Basin already. The challenge is to build on what exists by improving the availability and understanding of this information.
The following served as guiding principles for developing the indicator reporting model for the Basin:
Basin-Wide Indicator Report
This 2008 State of the Basin Report transforms information available from public sources into indicators for the Basin and its local areas. This is the first time this information has been presented as indicators in one easily available report for the Basin area.
Selecting the information to present as indicators in this report was no small task. To test the feasibility and usefulness of this model, this report uses the framework (diagram below) to present a sample of credible, locally-relevant information. This means that this report does not include the full suite of currently available information and information that could be collected for additional indicators. For example, the Economy section includes indicators for the tourism and forest sectors.
Indicators for the mining, agriculture, and retail sectors would be added in a complete Basin indicator report. Similarly, indicators representing arts, culture and heritage conditions were not available for this report, but would be considered in a full report. Additional information that is available for Basin areas is listed in this report and can be accessed through the State of the Basin website.
For each indicator, the team of technical advisors assisted in compiling the available information and preparing a concise summary for each indicator, including:
Detailed analyses of the reasons why particular conditions exist in the Basin, or why they persist in specific areas, are not included in this report. CBT hopes you will discuss the indicator results with others in your community, local area or community of interest to understand the unique and often complex local conditions and to plan actions when appropriate.
The State of the Basin website is an important component of the model. It hosts this report as both a complete downloadable document and as an on-line version. The on-line report contains live links to the raw data sources, analyses, and additional information associated with each indicator in the report. Having the raw data available allows interested individuals to review information for more specific communities or combined areas.
The website also includes raw data and links to additional information that were explored as part of the indicator selection process, but in the end were not chosen for the report.
CBT intends to use a variety of support means in order to test the feasibility and usefulness of the model. Contact information for technical experts is provided for each indicator in this report. CBT staff are also available to assist with accessing data on the website or answering questions about the model and the initiative in general.
CBT also intends to support some pilot planning efforts in the Basin that incorporate the use of information. An invitation will be extended to municipalities, regional districts, not-for-profit organizations, and other groups to submit a project proposal related to information-supported planning that aligns with existing priorities established by the CBT. The pilots will encourage the use of information in planning and generate learning to inform future planning efforts.