Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Feb. 7, 2023

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Transportation Vancouver residents’ top priority

Survey finds light rail, new I-5 bridge, parks key concerns

By , Columbian City Government Reporter
Published:

Vancouver residents say the city needs better transportation infrastructure, more of a unique cultural scene and additional amenities such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment, according to a recent community survey commissioned by the city.

The nonscientific survey was conducted June 15 through Aug. 7 as part of the development of the city’s new strategic plan.

The survey respondents ranked transportation as their top priority for Vancouver: light rail, a new Interstate 5 bridge and street maintenance. In second place was parks, trails and recreation.

The four-question survey, which generated 2,227 responses, asked respondents whether they live, shop, work, study or operate a business in Vancouver; what makes Vancouver special; what the community is missing and what their top three priorities are.

Respondents said the city’s parks and trails, proximity to Portland, affordability, good schools and family-friendly aspect makes the city special.

“Across the board, people are pretty upbeat. They like living in Vancouver, feel good about living in Vancouver,” City Manager Eric Holmes said.

The city last revised its strategic plan in 2008, “and the world has changed since then,” Holmes said last week.

“This is the city saying, ‘What’s the new reality?’ ” he said. “We’re in recovery from the recession now, but a lot of things are different. How can we prosper in that new reality … and become an even greater place?”

Holmes emphasized this wasn’t a satisfaction survey about city services — it was intended as a survey to gauge community aspirations and where the city should focus its efforts.

Police, fire and public safety ranked low on the list of respondents’ priorities, which indicates the city is doing well in those areas and people feel safe, Holmes said. Libby Barg, a city consultant from Portland firm Barney & Worth, agreed with Holmes’ assessment. Compared to other community survey results, Vancouver residents’ lack of concern about crime was notable, with only a handful of comments wanting public safety improvements out of the thousands of comments received, Barg told the city council on Monday.

Instead, respondents’ attention focused on where the city made cuts during the Great Recession: transportation and parks.

By putting the city’s shrinking revenues into public safety during the lean years, “apparently, we made the right choice,” Councilor Jack Burkman said Monday.

“I’m really pleased that the recognition is given to our first responders, that they’re not on this list,” he said.

The city council began the strategic planning update last year with a series of all-day sessions to flesh out the plan’s framework. The survey responses mesh with what the council came up with, Mayor Tim Leavitt said last week.

“It tells me as mayor the city council is in tune with the community and the areas of focus. The priorities are correctly placed, and we need to continue to head in the direction we’re moving,” Leavitt said. “But what’s clear is we’ve got work to do. That means engaging with the community about how to meet expectations with the available resources.”

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Columbian City Government Reporter