Communication Survey Results Report

About Westwind School Division

Westwind School Division is a rural public school division in south western Alberta. It has 13 public schools, 1 alternate school providing distance and home learning services, and 17 Hutterite Colony schools. The Division employs one communications officer who manages division communications, with school Principals, secretaries, teachers, coaches, and school councils in charge of communication at the schools level. 


Social and Traditional Media Use

Social Media is by far the most effective tool available to communicate with all demographics in our region.

In that context, we conducted a regional survey of 1,036 adults conducted from December 2016 to January 2017.

We found that 94% of all respondents have access to the internet in their homes. 88% of parents responding reported owning a smartphone. More than 77% of respondents used the most popular social media site on at least a weekly basis, while only 40% of respondents used the most popular traditional media source.

Traditional media is still an important mode of communicating to people, especially 75% those who do not currently use social media. As we can see, that is only 23% of 50% the respondents to this survey. None of the measured traditional mediums were used by a majority of respondents.

What follows is a deeper examination of the current state of the social and traditional media landscape in Westwind.

The Age Demographic Spread in Westwind Communities

The communities in Southern Alberta are abnormal. We see a very high population rate while children are living at home and going to school, between 0 and 18 years old. This drops off significantly at about age 18 and stays low until between 25 and 29. Populations in southern Alberta remain low overall, except for Cardston County which experiences a spike in ages 40 to 54. Thereafter it declines overall, with relative increases in Cardston around retirement age and entrance into independent and assisted living facilities. 

Demographic Percentage in Large Communities

Demographic Percentage in Small Communities

Number of Residents in Large Communities

Number of Residents in Small Communities

Civic Participation Levels by Age

One of the key reasons for engaging in this study was to ensure that Division communications about what effective educational practices are is reaching electors trying to decide who to vote for. We understand the age demographics of our communities, we understand the media usage statistics for our age demographics and communities, Now we need to understand our voter age demographics to determine how effective our communications are and where we should be focusing our attention. 

Our census shows a large number of millennial and silent generation people living in Westwind communities. Our survey respondents show a disproportionate number of Generation X respondents with nearly equal ratios of all other demographics, younger millennial excluded. Our voter statistics from the 2013 provincial elections show that the most important demographics to reach are the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers.

I feel confident that the results of the survey will help us to reach our different age demographics effectively and efficiently.

Usage and Demographics

77% of respondents use Facebook

Almost 8-in-10 of respondents to the survey use Facebook on at least a weekly basis.

Women respondents reported using Facebook 18% more than male respondents. This reflects an over trend of higher social media use among all women than men found by Pew Research2.

Millennials were the highest users, at 91% adoption among all respondents. The particularly surprising result was that a majority of the Silent Generation respondents also used Facebook on at least a weekly basis.

The majority of respondents from all communities reported using Facebook. Magrath respondents had the highest rate, 81%, and Glenwood and Hill Spring had the lowest rates, 62% and 63% respectively. 

56% of respondents use Youtube

A majority of respondents used youtube from both genders, although men were more likely to use Youtube on a weekly basis than women by 11%.

Youtube is a popular medium for respondents in all age categories except the Silent Generation, of which 35% of respondents still used it on a weekly basis.

Cardston, Glenwood, and Magrath had the highest percentage of respondents using Youtube at about 60%, and Hill Spring and Glenwood had the lowest at about 42%. 

43% of respondents use Pinterest

Pinterest is the first social media portal that does not have a majority adoption rate among respondents, and the reason for this is revealed in the gender divide. Slightly over half of women reported using Pinterest on at least a weekly basis, while only about 1-in-5 men reported the same.

There was a declining rate of adoption in older demographics, starting at 66% for Millennials, 55% for Generation X, 42% for Baby Boomers, and only 16% for the Silent Generation.

Magrath and Stirling had the highest rates of reported weekly usage at about 52%, and Hill Spring had the lowest at 27%. Hill Spring’s rate is 14% below the next lowest community, Raymond at 41%. 

31% of respondents use Instagram

Instagram is the least effective, in terms of overall population. However, it still reaches a majority of younger respondents (56%).

Women were more likely to use Instagram, at 35% opposed to only 21% for men.

The only community with a really significant portion of respondents reporting weekly use of Instagram was Magrath at 44%. All the other communities saw 33% or lower, down to a low of 21% in Glenwood. 

40% of respondents use Country 95

It is interesting that the highest overall adoption of traditional media is only 9% higher than the fourth highest social media tool.

Women were more likely to listen to Country 95 than men were.

The rate of listening was between 40% and 49% across demographics, except for the Silent Generation, which only reported 28% use on a weekly basis.

only one community’s respondents had 50% weekly usage, Hill Spring. All the other communities ranged between 38 and 44%. 

34% of respondents read Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Herald is the most read newspaper across the school Division.

About 1-in-3 women read the Herald, 31%, and somewhat more men read the Herald, 39%.

1-in 5 and 1-in-4 Millennial and Generations X respondents read the Herald at least once a week, but about 40% of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation reported the same.

All communities had 31-37% respondents reading the Herald at least once a week, but in Hillspring there were only 17% and in Mountain View there were only 11%. 

31% of respondents use the Global Lethbridge

Men and women were about equally likely to report watching Global Lethbridge at least once a week at a rate of about 1-in-3.

Older respondents were much more likely than younger respondents to watch Global Lethbridge, 38% and 17%.

All communities saw similar rates of people watching Global Lethbridge, about 1-in-3, except for Mountain View, which was 19%. 

18% of respondents read Temple City Star

Temple City Star is a local community newspaper printed in Cardston. It covers issues and news from Cardston, Mountain View, Hill Spring, and Glenwood. Its circulation is primarily in those communities.

Men and women were about equally likely to report reading the Temple City Star on a weekly basis, 1-in-5.

Older respondents were much more likely to report reading the Temple City Star than younger respondents, but there was still only 28% in the demographic with the highest reporting rate, the Silent Generation.

Cardston saw the largest readership, 39%, with readership declining as distance increases from Cardston. Magrath, Raymond, and Stirling all had 2% readership. 

16% of respondents use Westwind Weekly

The Westwind Weekly is similar to the Temple City Star but based out of Magrath with strong coverage in Raymond and Stirling. only 16% of the overall population reads the Westwind Weekly on a weekly basis.

17% of both men and women reported reading the paper.

Baby Boomers were much more likely to read the paper than any other demographic with 1-in-5. Millennials were much less likely with only 1-in-10 reporting reading the paper.

Magrath had a high readership percentage at 36%, with Raymond at 21% and Stirling at 15%. Cardston had 8%, with Glenwood, Hill Spring, and Mountain View all showing 0%. 

94% of respondents have access to the internet at home

This is much higher than the percentage of total Canadians who have access to the internet at home, which is 78%.

The only community with a relatively low rate of reported home access to the internet is Hill Spring, at 83%.

This tells us that if we use our online communication effectively, we can reach nearly every single one of our residents online, even the vast majority of the Silent Generation. 

79% of respondents own a smartphone

Smartphones are the largest and fastest growing tools for accessing the internet, sometimes this is the only internet connected device people have or that they will use on a regular basis4.

The only demographic where a majority of the people who did not have a smartphone were the Silent Generation. 1/4 of Cardston residents did not own a smartphone, which correlates with a higher elderly population in Cardston.

Almost 9 in 10 parents owned a smartphone, compared to only 6 in 10 non-parents. 

Frequency of Media Use

Facebook is by far the most popular, and the most regularly used of any communication medium. 43% of its users report that they use the site for more than one hour per day. Twitter users report similarly high levels of usage, even though the number of twitter users is hundreds lower than Facebook.

Country 95 has a high number of listeners and the highest rate of usage per listener or user of any traditional media source.

The Lethbridge Herald has issues out every day, while the Temple City Star and Westwind Weekly both have only weekly issues, which likely accounts for the sharp drop in readers reporting daily usage.

Although a larger number of people use Youtube and Pinterest, they are less likely to use the platform for more than about an hour a day than users of Facebook and Instagram. 

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Community Media Literacy

A question for our communities is which are the most and least adopted of any media sources, and which is more attuned to social media or traditional media. 

Magrath, Cardston, and Stirling have the highest overall percentage of general media adoption rates. Magrath, Stirling, and Raymond have the highest overall percentage of social media adoption. Cardston, Magrath, and Stirling have the highest overall percentage of traditional media adoption. 

Using Multiple Sites: The Media Matrix

 Substantial reciprocity across media platforms

Substantial reciprocity across media platforms

Media users continue to use a relatively diverse array of platforms. More than half of online adults reported using more than one social media platform. A vast majority of all consumers of media reported using Facebook in addition to any other platform. Even readers of the Herald and local papers reported using Facebook on at least a weekly basis. 

Outside of Facebook, there were high levels of reciprocity in Pinterest and Youtube, with moderate reciprocity in Instagram, and very low levels in Twitter, which had a lower average level of reciprocity than any other media source. Local papers had the next lowest levels of reciprocity, with very few people using other mediums also using those. No social media source had a reciprocity level with a traditional media source that was over 50%., although Country 95’s reciprocity levels were in the high 40% range, except for Twitter users. 

Context of Canadian Social Media Usage

There is a very high percentage of Canadians online, “85% of Canadians are online, using their desktop and/or mobile device.6” These Canadians spend nearly a quarter of their total time online on social media7. Habits and adoption of different platforms across age vary significantly. 

While some of the overall trends for social media use are mirrored in Westwind, the sheer number of people using Facebook vs. Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest makes using Facebook by far the most preferred method medium at this time.


In December 2016 Westwind School Division issued a communications survey to staff, parents, and the public. These were disseminated by mail, email, social media, and on the division and school websites.

In total, we mailed out a total of 6,214 surveys, with 5,803 delivered to occupied PO Boxes. 539 of the surveys mailed out were filled-out by the public, 251 were filled in online by parents, and 246 were filled in online by staff, for a total participation rate of 17.85%. Participants were made up of 144 Millennial, 293 Generation X, 367 Baby Boomer, 189 Silent Generation, and 43 no age was given.


That the Board approves the report and aggregate survey results for public release by motion.