Duncan residents give city thumbs-up, but willing to look at amalgamation

Based on the 2014 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, most Duncan residents are pretty pleased with life in the city, but are also willing to look into amalgamation with North Cowichan.

Residents rated the overall quality of life in Duncan at 7.9 on a scale of one to 10, council learned as they received results of the survey at Monday’s monthly meeting. With a question about studying amalgamation set to appear on the ballot in November’s election, 67 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of looking at the options, costs and benefits of uniting the municipalities, while 57 per cent said they supported studying realignment of the boundaries.

If forced to choose between amalgamation and realignment, 42 per cent said they would pick amalgamation, while 19 per cent preferred realignment.

“This research is one way we listen to residents,” Mayor Phil Kent said. “This tool will prove invaluable at helping council and staff to understand not only where we are doing well but where we need to improve. It will also assist council in shaping the budget to the priorities of our citizens. Council was encouraged by the feedback from those who participated in both the telephone and online surveys and we look forward to conducting this survey again to measure our future success.”

A telephone survey of 400 randomly selected households and an online survey at the city’s website were used to gather the data. Independent consulting firm Discovery Research handled the survey. Survey categories included satisfaction with various city services, preferred communications channels, and what they would advise the city do when facing budget demands.

The survey also asked how the city should proceed with researching amalgamation or restructuring options. Fifty-nine per cent were in favour of a randomly selected citizen assembly, 23 per cent were in favour of a committee of politicians and city staff, and 18 per cent were not sure.

According to respondents, the single most important issue facing the city is too much traffic, while the top environmental concern is air quality, which was blamed on too many cars.

Respondents’ favourite thing about Duncan was the size of the community, while city playgrounds, sports fields, water supply, sewage treatment, public transit, land-use planning, and bicycle paths received high satisfaction ratings. Areas where improvement is required included public washrooms, economic development, and road and transportation services.

In the area of city services, 35 per cent of respondents said they would prefer that the city increase user fees in order to maintain or increase existing services, while 22 per cent would prefer increased tax rates, and 21 per cent were in favour of reducing services in order to maintain current tax rates.

Nearly three quarters of respondents, 73 per cent, feel the city provides adequate information to residents. Seventy-seven per cent said they learn about local government issues through the newspaper.

Based on the city’s population, a sample of 400 residents generates findings accurate within ±4.9 per cent 19 times out of 20. The full report on the survey is available at www.duncan.ca

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