Satisfied in Sidney

Survey shows majority of Sidney residents happy with council, town services

A sample of Sidney residents are happy with their quality of life in the community and appear to be willing to pay additional taxes to maintain or improve that lifestyle.

A new Ipos Reid satisfaction survey was conducted in May and June of this year. The results were made public at council’s Sept. 23 meeting and were hailed as good news for the municipality.

Three hundred Sidney residents were contacted by phone and asked about their level of satisfaction with local services, the decisions of mayor and council, quality of life in Sidney, their top local issues and taxes, among others. In most categories, those surveyed indicated a level of satisfaction higher than the B.C. average in other municipalities.

Mayor Larry Cross agrees the survey acts as a barometer on how council is doing and how its decisions impact the residents.

“Overall, it shows a good reaction to popular issues,” Cross said, “but we’re not going to rest on our laurels. We do have areas where we need to improve on.”

Communications between the Town and its residents is one of those areas where improvement is needed. Most respondents either didn’t know of, or had no particular information they needed — but those who did listed taxes, budgets and land issue matters as things about which they wanted more details.

Cross said communications is a high priority item in council’s upcoming strategic planning session, as well as their recently-completed communications plan.

“We have heard that people aren’t always getting the message,” he said, “so we need to use a variety of methods to reach them.”

The survey indicated people’s preferred methods of getting information is through Town newsletters and the local newspaper.

Respondents also stated they would be willing to pay additional taxes to either maintain or improve local municipal services. Fifty-seven per cent of them favoured increased taxes (the B.C. norm is 49 per cent) while only 29 per cent suggested cutting services would be preferable. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said they get good or very good value from the Town for their taxes.

This is Sidney’s first such survey, said chief administrative officer Randy Humble. It was done  to get additional feedback from the community as council heads into strategic planning later this month. What it does, he said, is set a benchmark for the community.

“Overall, it’s a very good news story for the Town,” Humble said. “It indicates a strong level of satisfaction with how the Town is being managed and the decision-making of mayor and council.”

Issues raised in the survey — transportation, affordable housing and growth and development being the main ones — will be reviewed by staff, Humble said, and discussed by council.

The survey cost the Town approximately $10,000. Humble said he doesn’t recommend it be done every year; perhaps only once per council term of office.

The full Ipsos Reid satisfaction survey can be viewed on the Town’s website.