By Lyndsie Kiebert
Results are now available from a survey of Bonner County residents regarding their concerns for the future.
Project 7B Chair Daniel Shlaferman gave each Bonner County Commissioner a copy of the survey’s results Tuesday during the public comment portion of the board’s regularly scheduled business meeting. The document, titled “Listening to Bonner County,” was produced by a group of students from the University of Utah’s Department of City and Metropolitan Planning and focuses on planning issues in Bonner County.
Shlaferman said Project 7B, a local non-partisan group seeking to help county residents “understand and become more involved in land use planning,” invited the students to perform the research and that their lodging and other expenses were paid for by an Innovia Foundation grant.
“They had never been here before, so they came in a completely neutral fashion,” said Carol Curtis, also with Project 7B, during the Tuesday meeting. “The whole point … is to foster communication between entities — nonprofits, counties, cities — so that people know what’s going on and feel empowered to be able to participate in an intelligent manner. It’s not (meant) to tell us what to do, it’s just to foster dialogue.”
The results of the survey come from both an online questionnaire and a number of in-person “Listening Sessions” conducted in September at locales such as the Ponderay Walmart, Sandpoint High School, the Blanchard Community Center, senior centers and local libraries. Topics of main concern to Bonner County citizens — according to the results — include growth management, future water quality, rising house costs, open space preservation and traffic.
“Listening to Bonner County” concludes with short-term, medium-term and long-term suggestions for how to combat issues facing Bonner County according to the survey. These issues are categorized as “the rural/urban divide,” “digital divide,” “housing,” “homelessness” and more. The document also outlines ways to foster community engagement and productive discussion among community members.
Commissioner Dan McDonald said Wednesday that he’d had a chance to give the document a quick read and that he was skeptical whether the few hundred people the students interviewed constitute an adequate sample size of the county’s 43,000 residents. McDonald complimented the document’s appearance, but noted that the students did not meet with the board of commissioners or the county planning department before publishing information about density and housing issues.
Read the complete 58-page document and learn more about the project at www.listeningtobonnercounty.org. Find project updates at www.facebook.com/ListeningToBonnerCounty.
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