City of Courtenay might distribute survey in the spring

Courtenay residents may be surveyed in the spring to see how they think the City of Courtenay is doing.

Courtenay residents may be surveyed in the spring to see how they think the City of Courtenay is doing.

Council voted unanimously in favour of a Coun. Bill Anglin motion to have staff present options for a syndicated survey from external resources in the spring.

Anglin suggested the motion Monday after noting surveys can be tricky to do accurately, largely due to the care that must be taken when creating questions.

“The question is everything. You can get people who don’t agree with something to agree if you ask the question the right way,” said Anglin. “So, I would be happier, for our first kick at the cat, to use a nationally recognized firm with standard databank questions to see what kind of engagement we get and then go from there.”

During the end of the 2012 budget discussions in the spring, council requested that staff look into a citizen survey for the 2013 budget discussions, which are expected to start early next year.

The staff report asked council for direction on what kind of survey to conduct, such as mailout flyers or telephone, who the target audience should be, and whether City staff should conduct the survey or whether and external company should be hired.

Coun. Jon Ambler expressed strong concern around the validity of surveys.

“The questions have to be done professionally, otherwise you get an answer that is at best misleading,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult to get this right.”

After a significant amount of debate regarding surveys, council quickly voted in favour of Anglin’s motion looking into a syndicated survey when he made it.

The survey would not provide input on the 2013 budget discussions because it would be conducted too late in the year.