Generating knowledge that drives community action
Origins of the Niagara Research and Planning Council (NRAPC):
2005 – A group of Niagara-based “for social profit” leaders met to discuss creating a Niagara-wide approach to integrated social and community planning.
The Niagara Integrated Social and Community Planning Project (NISCPP) began.
2006 – The NISCPP hosted a facilitated meeting of interested citizens from across the region, to define the vision. Strong support was expressed for
creating a community-driven body to champion Niagara-focused, collaborative, evidence-based planning to leverage Niagara’s assets for focused planning
and a stronger future throughout the region.
2007 – As a result of this community action, the Niagara Research and Planning Council (NRAPC) formed.
2008 – NRAPC released the first Living in Niagara report – a baseline snapshot of Niagara’s asset-based strengths, as well as challenges affecting life
in Niagara. The Living in Niagara report is widely-cited by planners throughout the region.
2011 – The second Living in Niagara report is produced. Construction begins on the Niagara Knowledge Exchange, a digital platform for horizontal
knowledge-sharing that leads to a stronger Niagara.
NRAPC works in partnership with public, private and not-for- profit organizations as well as citizens of Niagara. The Council is involved in several
partnerships and community leadership initiatives:
- Producing the Living in Niagara report for community insight, reflection, planning and action.
- Facilitating the development of Niagara Knowledge Exchange capacity in the region.
- Hosting an online gathering place at www.nrapc.com, to keep citizens up to date, and engage people who wish to connect with sectors, to work and take leadership.
- Facilitating community dialogue and action plans based on the best information and leadership available.
- Partnering in the Niagara Age-Friendly Community Initiative which is based on a global effort led by the World Health Organization.
- The goal is to create safe and secure environments that foster community participation, personal health and well-being.
- Working with Niagara-wide partners on emerging issues, to identify, conduct, analyze and facilitate specific research and action projects.
- Working with the community to facilitate civic action.
NRAPC will regularly update the online version of Living in Niagara – 2011. The 12 sectors of this report provide the framework for the Niagara Knowledge Exchange – a digital platform for horizontal sharing of relevant, reliable, Niagara-focused data, documents, mapping and reports, to support evidence-informed planning and focused decision-making.
History of identifying 12 sectors and indicators to describe quality of life in Niagara
For the first Living in Niagara report (2008), an online survey tool was used to contact citizens who took part in the Niagara Integrated Social and
Community Planning Project (NISCPP), to identify eleven (11) key sectors that would describe life in Niagara. They also outlined relevant indicators
to measure Niagara’s progress in these sectors.
For Living in Niagara – 2011, the “Recreation and Sports” sector was added, for a total of twelve (12) sectors. Indicators in each sector were selected for inclusion, using the following criteria:
- Relevance to the sector;
- Reliability of information;
- Perceived public interest;
- Ease and cost of data collection;
- Frequency of data collection, for future use and comparisons over time; and
- Niagara Region as the primary scope of information to be collected and reported.
Data included in this report:
- Existing research data from Statistics Canada, reports from governments, agencies, and planning bodies, as well as research studies were collected, reviewed and analyzed for reliability and validity for inclusion. Summary reports and data exist from local municipalities, Niagara Region, and the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) that includes Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand and Brant.
- Census data is made available by community profiles broken down by Census Tract Areas, Municipalities, Regions or Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). Niagara Region participates in the Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI), gathering data with 25 other Canadian Municipalities for comparative purposes, as well as the Federation of Canadian Communities (FCM) Quality of Life Reporting System (QOLRS), which includes 20 Canadian municipalities. Also included is data from Statistics Canada’s most recent General Social Surveys and Canadian Community Health Surveys.
- Where possible, Niagara data was compared to provincial, national, other municipal data or existing standards. When available, trends for Niagara over time are presented. Websites were accessed and data retrieved, studied and summarized from January to August, 2011. NRAPC decided that the data required for the report would primarily be regional in focus. Niagara data is beginning to be mapped and collected by neighbourhoods, by groups such as Early Years Niagara, and the Niagara Prosperity Initiative.
- Community leaders were engaged via online contact and face-to-face dialogue, to identify sources of data for each of the sectors. Through this process, the research team learned about existing data being collected and reported locally by various organizations. Groups shared their information generously.
- A commitment to using evidence-based planning, and a new spirit of collaboration are emerging in the community of Niagara. NRAPC identified more than 36 community expert opinion leaders (approximately 3 per sector) who could help identify data, review the report and provide leadership in the follow-up engagement and action phases resulting from the findings of this report.