Pathway 1 in Profile: Socially Responsible and Empowered Community

Building A Socially Responsible and Empowered Community

The award-winning Cochrane Sustainability Plan (CSP) provides the roadmap for creating a sustainable future for the community of Cochrane. Pathway 1 is all about connections and individual citizens taking responsibility for building a strong and productive social framework that benefits all residents.

Pathway 1:  We are a Socially Responsible and Empowered Community

To achieve the goals for social responsibility and empowerment, the CSP focuses on two key areas:  volunteering and participation in civic elections.

Volunteering

Cochrane is fortunate to benefit from a strong volunteer base, with a large number of citizens who are committed to making the community a better place.  In a 2005 survey, 66 per cent of residents said they were volunteers.  The average volunteer commitment was between 10 and 12 hours per month.

Overall, an estimated 120 local community groups benefit from this volunteer effort.

One of the community groups that is using volunteer efforts to achieve Pathway 1 goals is Cochrane Citizens on Patrol (COP). In coordination with the RCMP, this group is helping keeping residents safe, while at the same time contributing to increasing the number of hours that are volunteered for important community programs.

The COP nightly patrols are a regular sight across Cochrane, and help create a safer, more empowered community.  Members of COP keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and when it’s noted, contact the RCMP to intervene.  This early warning system has proven highly effective.

Volunteers agree to contribute at least four hours per month to COP, and in return, benefit from feelings of satisfaction for helping reduce crime in our community.

The COP mission statement also reflects the goals of the CSP: “To create a safer community by patrolling, reporting and education.” By helping to reduce criminal activity in the community, residents are empowered.  Volunteers benefit by doing something constructive to help strengthen their community.

The Cochrane Sustainability Plan itself is another example of how volunteers can work together to achieve a common goal.  In the Plan’s development process, more than 739 meeting hours were contributed by volunteers, and more than 400 residents provided thoughtful responses to the Plan’s visioning questions.  Many employers contributed staff time to the process – in fact, the estimated total meeting hours contributed by Town of Cochrane staff and volunteers in the first year of the planning process exceeded 1,400 hours.

Interested in volunteering, but not sure where to start?  Cochrane’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) has a Volunteer Centre where you can find the perfect match for your talents and interests.

Voter Turnout

Increased voter turnout is a key target in the CSP.  Over the years, turnout has been fairly consistent, averaging 38 to 39 per cent in the last three elections.  The CSP objective is for more Cochrane residents to participate in the electoral process, with a target of 50 per cent voter turnout by 2013.

Cochrane goes to the polls on October 18 to elect a new Town Council and Mayor.  Nomination Day was September 20, and a list of candidates is now available.

You can learn more about the candidates and the election process in Cochrane on the Town of Cochrane website.

And you can help achieve Pathway 1 objectives by voting on Election Day.

The targets for Pathway 1:

  • By 2013, 50% of eligible voters will vote in all elections
  • By 2020, 65% of eligible voters will vote in all elections
  • By 2030, 80% of eligible voters will vote in all elections
  • By 2019, increase the number of citizens and organizations who declare action towards the Cochrane Sustainability Plan by 500% from 2009
  • By 2029, increase volunteer hours and charitable donations by 20%

Want to learn more about Cochrane Citizens on Patrol?  You can download Cochrane Citizens on Patrol, a feature about the group’s work by Bruce Chenuz, a student with The University of Calgary and a volunteer for SPUR.