A cross section of residents and elected officials took part in a three-hour interactive meeting, which was held in Rimbey recently and conducted by a team of researchers from University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.
About 45 people attended the meeting held at the Peter Lougheed Community Centre on Thursday, Jan. 29 to participate in the study entitled the Co-operative Innovation Project.
The Rimbey meeting, also targeting neighbouring communities including Ponoka, was one of about 40 such gatherings being held in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia over the next three months.
The meetings are the first stage of a two-year study being held to determine the social and economic characteristics of the communities in which co-operative development is most likely to succeed. Determining which communities have these characteristics is also part of the study.
“The meetings are to determine the community’s needs and ability to come together and whether co-operative developments will work in these communities,” said Miranda Gouchie, research assistant.
Rimbey Mayor Rick Pankiw said he found the meeting to be interesting and informative.
“I thought it was really interesting and unique to learn what people perceive as problems.”
Pankiw said he found the meeting to be similar to an Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference.
“Everyone has concerns, the hardest thing is finding the answers and it is always good to hear different views.”
He said he would be looking forward to getting a report back regarding the comments.
“Really at the end of the day, it seems we all struggle with similar issues,” he said, adding that lack of government funding often makes it difficult to find financial solutions to problems.
Rimbey was one of the first Alberta communities visited by the university researchers.
Information garnered at the meetings will be compiled and later published in print and electronic formats; reports could be used at conference presentations and in academic journals or books and names will not be used without prior consent.
During the Rimbey meeting, participants were divided into groups and topics related to the community were discussed.
Comments were confidential although it was not made clear why a gathering organized by a university on community issues would require confidentiality.
The Co-operative Innovation Project is funded by Federated Co-operatives Limited in Saskatoon and the study has been approved by the University of Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on Ethics in Behavioral Research.