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Time running out to fill in Augusta survey; youth opinion encouraged

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MAYNARD - If you intend to weigh in on the future of Augusta Township via their current online survey, you had better hurry. The Great Augusta Community Survey closes this Friday at 4:30 p.m.

"This is where we need Augusta's residents to take ten or 15 minutes to have their say," says Mayor Doug Malanka. The survey explains that the 20 questions of the document are designed "to draw out feelings, opinions and priorities about what makes our community great."

The survey is part of a new Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which had its beginning at their council meeting of June 29, when council directed township staff to prepare a CIP and to undertake a planning and economic development-focused survey to inform residents and to gather their ideas and opinions.

Township Planner Myron Belej calls this survey in particular and CIPs in general "a powerful planning and economic development tool," while Mayor Malanka says a CIP gives municipalities the increased ability to leverage the funding and partnerships of higher orders of government.

The survey came online July 9 and takes less than 20 minutes to fill out, even if adding comments, which is optional. It is easily found on the township's webpage and is extremely user-friendly. Belej says in the first week they received 80 replies, filled with data he says will be important not just currently, but in the years to come.

"The value of comparison is high here. In five or ten or 15 years we can ask some of the same questions again and look at how things have changed; this is something which isn't only beneficial for us but for our neighbouring townships as well."

Belej has used his degree in social sciences to create similar surveys which met with informative results, especially during his time in Alberta. He says a resident survey is statistically significant, and says the answers given now will be important in shaping the future.

"We are very happy with the replies we've seen coming in so far but would really like younger people to sit down with the survey," says Belej. "We are very curious to know what replies the youth group (zero to 17 years of age) would say about their experience living here and what they are looking for in the future of the township."

After this Friday's cut-off date, the information will be compiled by Belej and staff and presented to council who can then use it as a reference tool to see what's important to residents. They can also judge how they are doing in meeting the needs and opinions of taxpayers.

"Having a strong CIP will make it easier for our municipality to effectively use, reuse and restore land, buildings, and infrastructure and to encourage reinvestment in our industrial park for the new economy," says Malanka.

"I encourage all Augusta residents to complete The Great Augusta Community survey which can be found online on our municipal website at www.augusta.ca through July 24," says the Mayor.

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