By Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter GABRIOLA SOUNDER
Life is good in the Regional District of Nanaimo, according to a community phone survey conducted last June.
About 80 per cent of residents surveyed rated the quality of life in the RDN as either good, very good or excellent. Simon Webb of Deloitte, the firm that conducted the survey, said that rating is above average compared to other communities it conducts similar surveys for.
Sixty-three per cent were somewhat satisfied with services provided by the RDN. Top themes for people expressing satisfaction were parks and green spaces, bus schedules and routes and garbage collection and recycling. Reasons for dissatisfaction included high taxes and spending, lack of focus on environmental issues, balancing new buildings and parks as well as services not under that RDN’s jurisdiction like road maintenance and snow removal.
Respondents were least satisfied with the RDN with regard to climate change, transportation and transit and housing. These were also noted as the areas that should be the top strategic priorities of focus from community members’ perspectives.
A total of 562 interviews were completed for the survey. The maximum margin of error was +/- 4.1 per cent with a 95 per cent confidence interval. Separately, 643 online surveys were completed thorough the RDN’s Get involved website.
While the survey results are meant to provide data for directors to reference during the strategic planning process, many directors felt it wouldn’t be all that useful.
“This is a story of the dominant majority of the RDN and this may or may not reflect the experiences and the priorities of the minority populations,” the electoral areas and small districts like Lantzville, Electoral Area A Director Jessica Stanley said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable gauging strategic priorities from a generalized number — I don’t know if it reflects smaller rural areas.”
The sample size for the phone survey was in proportion to the populations within each area and municipality of the RDN. Nearly two-thirds of the responses to the phone survey were from the City of Nanaimo. RDN staff said the approach taken regarding sample size and representation of the whole region’s population was recommended by the consultant.
Directors ultimately received the report for information and for consideration during the upcoming strategic planning process and expressed a desire to look at conducting future surveys differently. In January 2022, the board passed a motion to conduct a community engagement survey for the region every four years.
Full survey results are available on the RDN’s Get Involved website.