By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Low uptake on a recent Coaldale survey means the Town can’t take the results as the town’s general opinion.
During their regular Sept. 25 meeting, Coaldale town council reviewed the results of the 2023 Community Satisfaction Survey.
The survey, which ran from the beginning of June to the end of July, aimed to gather information and opinions on Town services, facilities and finances, and ultimately act as an useful planning tool for the Town. The survey was first approved by council in July 2022, and for this year’s survey, a total of 74 responses were gathered. Of those responses, five were submitted in paper form while the remaining 69 were submitted online. In addition, four of the survey responses were from non-Coaldale residents, so they were filtered from the overall results.
A total of 16 questions/statements were posed in the survey, centering around Town programs/service levels, taxes, how the Town is being run, communication and quality of life. Some of the highlights from the report include:
• 58 respondents were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the overall level and quality of programs and services provided by the Town
• Respondents were most satisfied with fire protection, garbage collection and recycling in town, and were least satisfied with road and sidewalk maintenance/repair, recreational facilities; and bylaw enforcement.
• 38 respondents indicated they got either very good value or good value for the taxes they pay, while 30 indicated they received either very poor value or poor value for the taxes they pay
• 40 respondents indicated they either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that the Town does the best it can with the budget it has
• 56 respondents indicated they either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that the Town makes information available through a wide variety of communication channels and methods
Two questions were written submissions, and in them, respondents indicated that the top three programs/services they would like the Town to provide are an indoor pool; more family/kid-friendly programming and enhanced municipal enforcement, and the top three things the Town can do to improve the quality of life are improve bylaw enforcement/policing, improve road/sidewalk maintenance and repair and lower taxes.
As the survey was neither random-polling or of at least 363 residents of voting age, Jonathan Wensveen, Manager of Government Relations for the Town, cautioned that the survey, at best, had a confidence level of 49.6 per cent, and should not be mistaken for opinions held by town residents in general, or 95 per cent of the time, which is the standard.
Coun. Lisa Reis noted that as there was only 75 respondents out of a population of roughly 9,500, it was “tough to really take it at face value, what the results of the survey are, as you rightfully said”, and asked if there was a better way to get the word out and get residents engaged in the survey, as otherwise they wouldn’t know what the “true thoughts of our residents are”.
“I think we need to rethink how to promote it a little bit,” said Wensveen. “For council’s information, it was pinned to the top of our Facebook page for the entire two months. But nevertheless, it would be nice to increase the numbers to a point where we can, you know, have some reliable data that can guide council moving forward.”
Coun. Bill Chapman asked if they could take those responses in the same vein as they would receive praise or a complaint from a member of the public. Wensveen agreed that cross-referencing the results from surveys with those received from the complaint system would be a good way to “have another measure of how people feel the Town is being run”, and it would be a useful exercise moving forward.
Mayor Jack Van Rijn requested the item be added to their strategic plan for further discussion.
Council passed a motion to accept the 2023 Community Satisfaction Survey Results & Analysis as information.