Recently, in an effort to gain clearer insight going forward with the budgeting process, Thorsby Council asked for a telephone survey of residents regarding their satisfaction with the quality of village services. Abingdon Research was hired to conduct the August, 2014 survey.
Garnett Genuis, Abingdon Research Vice President, reviewed the survey results with Council at the September 9th meeting saying 69 adult residents responded. This represents a survey rate of 17.2% of 373 Village households, and a margin of error +/ – 11.2% nineteen times out of twenty.
The survey revealed the highest rated service is the Arctic Spas Recreation Centre (6.2 [“10” being completely satisfied]), followed by Parks and Green Spaces maintenance (5.9). Despite the change in status, satisfaction with the Fire Department is not negative (5.1). Available housing tied with the community hall (4.9). Cultural programs scored (4.3), and snow clearing (4.0). Three services scored below 4.0, indicating low satisfaction levels: By-law services (3.9), road maintenance (2.8), and economic development (2.4).
The only opinion about life in Thorsby that has broad agreement is the feeling of safety living in Thorsby (50% strongly agree, 32% moderately agree). While at the opposite end of the spectrum, 77% strongly disagreed with two statements, “We pay a fair amount for water and sewer services” and, “We get good value for our taxes.”
Respondents identified upgrading water or sewer infrastructure as the highest priority (90.5), followed by fixing potholes (86.4), snow clearing (75.4), more cultural activities (28.1), investing in the community hall (23.3), park maintenance (18.2), and investing in the recreation centre (12.8).
The survey did generate some controversy. Councillor Beleshko questioned the validity and choice of methodology. He also said there were a number of residents who wanted to participate, yet did not receive a call nor were any messages left.
Genuis explained, at length, the reasoning behind their choice of survey method, as well as the validity of the statistical methodology used. He insisted, “Three attempts were made to reach every number,” and that messages were left.
Beleshko asked for further community input via focus group, as well as an opportunity to ask one open ended question, “Are there any other areas of concern not mentioned in the survey?”
Councillor Bob Burnett wondered if the Village website could be opened up to allow residents to make comments specific to the survey.
“When you compare the survey with the strategic plan, there is an overlap,” said CAO Jason Gariepy. “Council said they wanted to reduce water utility rates, set a predictable tax level, and prioritize major capital projects. Administration will take this and ensure that this feedback is incorporated into the budget process for 2015 and beyond.”
The survey results may be viewed online via the village website at www.thorsby.ca.