Improving water quality is considered by residents to be the most important challenge facing North Cowichan, according to the results of the municipality’s recently completed citizen satisfaction survey.
Water quality was mentioned on the survey as the most commonly cited important challenge by 22 per cent of respondents when asked in the open-ended question.
Taxes were the second most important challenge mentioned on the survey, at 15 per cent, and homelessness took third place with 13 per cent.
Government spending accounted for just three per cent.
When asked to pick one issue at random for local leaders to take action on, the most mentioned subject, at 17 per cent of respondents, was homelessness/drug addiction.
Parks, green space and natural beauty are aspects about North Cowichan that 48 per cent of residents in the survey indicated as their favourite things about the municipality in the survey.
Nearly all residents surveyed (97 per cent) rate the overall quality of life in North Cowichan as either good or very good.
Satisfaction with the overall level and quality of service provided by North Cowichan is also very high, with 89 per cent of respondents stating they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied.
But while the municipality’s performance results were strong overall, the survey suggests results could be better in a number of areas.
They include road maintenance, community planning services, development and building services, training and support to enable staff to resolve resident issues and the need to continue sharing information with residents seeking input on their views and priorities.
Speaking to council at its meeting on July 17, Tim Chan, from eNRG Research Group which was selected as the consultant for the survey at a cost of approximately $20,000, said the survey is mostly a good news story for the municipality.
“Well done to staff and council for a good result on the question about quality of life,” he said.
“The quality of life results in the survey are comparable to a number of other jurisdictions, including Oak Bay, View Royal and Port Coquitlam.”
While the City of Duncan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District have used citizen satisfaction surveys before, the Municipality of North Cowichan launched its first-ever citizen satisfaction survey during the months of May and June.
The survey targeted 400 individuals and was conducted over the phone, using both land lines and cellphones.
An online version of the survey was also available for members of the public who wanted to participate.
The survey questions addressed an array of topics; including each participant’s level of satisfaction with the services delivered by the municipality, and community views on varying initiatives and activities in North Cowichan.
“To see such positive results and know that they represent our entire community is really, really heartening,” said Mayor Al Siebring.
“These results, while very positive, also give us insight into the local issues that residents believe are most important, and we’ll be able to use this information going forward when we evaluate and reassess our priorities.”
The feedback from the survey is mainly intended to provide valuable insight for council and staff to evaluate what the municipality is doing well and where efforts need to be focused in the future.
“We have a dedicated team of staff who work hard to deliver services to North Cowichan residents, and to see those efforts valued by the community that we serve is very rewarding,” said Ted Swabey, North Cowichan’s CAO.
For the full results of the survey,go to North Cowichan’s website and follow the links.