Older residents don’t like change and want lower taxes, while younger ones are more flexible about both new ideas and taxes, North Cowichan councillors learned Sept. 4.
Consultant Cam Matthewson of NRG Research Group was on hand to explain the results of the recently completed Citizen Satisfaction Survey.
Water issues, including quality, was the No. 1 concern among North Cowichan residents, outpacing taxes and homelessness: the second and third concerns mentioned by residents in the survey.
After that, there was community planning, maintenance of sidewalks and infrastructure, attainable housing, climate change, increased services and events, traffic safety, garbage collection, and government spending.
Matthewson said, “It’s becoming harder and harder to reach the younger demographic but we still want to make it as representative as possible.”
This was in answer to comments that some older people had been told their comments weren’t needed because the 55+ quota was already filled.
“The older age bracket was more accessible and more likely to respond,” he said.
Some councillors, notably Coun. Christopher Justice, expressed concern that these difficulties made it harder to have confidence in the findings.
Mayor Al Siebring said, “There’s an educational piece to this. How do we respond, align the information that’s out there with what we know to be true?”
Matthewson showed some of the comments on drinking water, as an example of what was available in the study.
Some of these included: “Drinking water quality and sewer smells”, “Well, I would say the water situation. We have had warnings about the water and not to drink it, so now we’re on well water”, “low rivers, water usage in the summer, and not being able to water the lawn”.
Coun. Rosalie Sawrie wondered about the breakdown of the results, saying, “Drinking water is always speaking to climate change for me.”
However, North Cowichan CAO Ted Swabey said, “Our strategic plan is well-matched with what we’ve heard from the public. It’s one piece of the puzzle. It’s an affirmation of what we’ve been doing.”