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By Lawrence Belanger

Local Journalism Initiative

The Table de développement social du Memphrémagog (TDSM), the Corporation du développement communautaire (CDC) Memphrémagog and the Regional County Municipality of Memphrémagog (MRC de Memphrémagog) are urging citizens in the MRC’s 17 municipalities to take part in a survey as part of the creation of a new social development policy in the region. Ed Humphrey, project manager at Townshippers’ Association, a local organization serving the Township’s English-speaking community, says the survey aims to “check the pulse of...all the different players in the community and how they feel,” regarding their quality of life.

Humphrey, as part of his responsibilities as project manager at Townshippers’, sat on the board of directors of the Table de développement social du Memphrémagog, and was involved in the collaborative process guiding the creation of a social development plan that led to the creation of the survey.

According to Humphrey, a development plan is a “framework for how the region is going to collectively develop a [certain] topic”. It will apply to all the municipalities in the Memphremagog MRC if implemented. In a press release, Mélissa Rivard, Executive Director of the CDC Memphrémagog described social development as “a collective effort to improve the quality of life for everyone.” She went on to say that “having such a policy will help inform the decisions of our leaders, so that that we can continue to align our actions with the needs of our citizens.”

Quality of life is a wide-ranging concept, and could include issues like transit, food security, neighbourhood safety, and accessibility. Respondents to the survey can share information about what is important to them, what is challenging, and what they are proud of. According to Humphrey, the questions cover a variety of issues including housing costs, neighbourhood safety, food security, and local government.

After the survey concludes, the TDSM, CDC, and MRC de Memphérmagog will then review and analyze the results. Humphrey says that there will then be public consultations in the later part of 2023, with the creation of an action plan to implement the actual policy in 2024.

Humphrey says the process takes as long as it does due to both the scope of social development, as well as the breadth of the three organizations involved in the survey. “Because it's so inclusive and collaborative and there are all these pieces, [making the policy] doesn’t happen in six months.” While Humphrey admits that a faster process is possible, he says that you “can’t develop policy without talking to the people it’s going to affect.”

It was also a difficult task to get the MRC, CDC, and TDSM all on the same page and in agreement. He also says labour shortages impacted the development of the survey and future plan.

The organizations involved in pushing this development work in a variety of sectors and have a mix of mandates, from coordinating other non-profits to social justice to land management. While the MRC is an administrative level of the provincial government, the CDC is a non-profit organization that works with other non-profits such as women’s shelters and anglophone organizations to coordinate their work, and the TDSM includes members that are food banks, addiction services, disability advocates, and volunteer centers.

Humphrey says that the survey is being sent out to community organizations who then encourage their members and clients to participate. The more participation, the better, since the needs of North Hatley might be different than those of Stanstead or Magog. He also stresses that the survey is available in English and that the inclusion of anglophones is an important component of the survey and future plan. He says that upwards of 10 organizations for anglophones or offering services to them have been contacted to disseminate the survey.

“One of the priorities of [this] whole process is to include the English-speaking community. We’ve found it to be a very welcoming atmosphere,” he says, speaking about Townshippers’ involvement in the collaborative process leading up to the survey.

“Sometimes we can find ourselves excluded from these processes,” explains Humphrey. He feels that the survey will show that English speakers are active in their municipalities. “They are youth, they’re elderly, they’re disabled, they’re unemployed, they represent all aspects of the community.”

The survey is available online at until Jan. 31. The survey can also be found on individual municipal websites. Completed physical surveys can be delivered to the CDC Memphrémagog office, located at 95 rue Merry Nord, Office 217, Magog or to your municipal office.

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