ARCHIVED - 5. Observations on Community Evaluation Capacity

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Our research with the Halifax task force resulted in a valuable dialogue. We found enthusiastic leaders interested in knowing more about the assets and current needs of the community. There was also great interest in setting targets and benchmarks on common community vitality issues and observing progress over time with the help of community vitality indicators.

As a whole, the task force seemed to have a grasp of evaluation basics. We noted that the jargon of the field started to appear in some planning documents, such as the 2006–2009 Community Plan for the Francophone and Acadian Community of the Halifax Area. In this type of document, an effort is made to translate the objectives into results.

However, it must be acknowledged that the use of vitality indicators is not yet a widespread community practice. We were unable to identify any clear evaluation strategies in the main planning documents. Even though we were able to collect data here and there, we still do not appear to have the means or contacts to systematically collect data based on precise indicators. From this point of view, training, mentoring or other forms of support would most likely foster capacity building.

Evaluation is also costly and time consuming. At present, community organizations have limited time and little money. Contributions from funding agencies should therefore be earmarked for evaluation.

Because of its municipal scope, the Conseil communautaire du Grand-Havre would appear to be the natural leader of a community vitality measurement project.

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