SurreyCares asks youth to grade the city

SURREY — What does Surrey’s next generation think about the city’s future? That’s what a SurreyCares report card hopes to reveal after surveying the city’s youth.

“We need to know what struggles they’re facing,” said Jeff Hector, president of SurreyCares Community Foundation.

The local charity is asking residents aged 12 to 24 to grade the community.

The answers will be published in a Youth Vital Signs report this fall with the goal if increasing awareness of youth views on life in Surrey, as well as providing information for future funding decisions for programs and services.

Allison Nelson, an SFU co-op student working with SurreyCares, said people often think they know what youth need, but this report is about learning “what youth want.”

Last October, the City of Surrey received a “C” in the first-ever quality-of-life report card. A total of 571 residents participated in the SurreyCares survey in which they were asked to grade the community on everything from crime to the economy.

The Vital Signs report is a national initiative, combining statistical data and public perspective into a report, and the 2014 project was the first time it was done in Surrey.

That report found that 17 per cent of Surrey’s population is youth. In the survey, one third said they did not think they would live in Surrey five years down the road.

The top issue for youth was found to be the lack of local jobs. Affordable housing was another big concern.

The report also noted a shortage of post-secondary seats in Surrey when compared to the provincial average: There are only 12.7 post-secondary seats per 100 youth in Surrey, compared to 48.7 seats per 100 youth in B.C.

When Surrey’s mark was revealed last year, Hector said the city is “going through some growing pains” and the report has “exposed them.

The city received failing marks for safety, transportation, standard of living and housing. Surrey was given Cs for arts and culture, the economy and the environment.

Residents praised the local arts and culture scene, but said they would like to see more neighbourhood events.

In addition to questions on each topic, the survey also looked at things residents loved – and things residents want to see improved – in the community.

The survey found residents believe the top 10 things to celebrate about the community are parks; festivals and events; locally grown food; the natural environment; diverse cultures; the growing economy; recreation opportunities; friends and family; good governance and people.

When it came to the top 10 things to improve, residents reported crime as the top issue, followed by transit, mental illness, addiction, community planning, housing options and affordability, health care, employment opportunities, schools (K-12) and poverty.

To read the full 2014 report, or to take part in the youth survey, visit Surreycares.org. The youth survey will close on June 30.

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