A citizen satisfaction survey conducted in 2013 for the Town of Creston seems to indicate an increased satisfaction level among residents.
“While there are some areas where we can make comparisons to the results in 2009, we need to be careful as some questions are different, and we are dealing with a different sample size,” Bhar Sihota, who works on contract for the town, said at the June 10 regular council meeting. “The differences between the two surveys have not been statistically tested to determine significance.”
Sihota said that quality of life was described as good or very good by 89.4 per cent of the respondents (384 of the 1,000 surveys send out randomly were returned, for a response rate of nearly 40 per cent), up from 79 per cent in 2009.
On the topic of safety, 81.3 per cent said they feel the safety in their neighbourhoods is good or very good, up from 75 per cent in 2009.
One of the largest swings in attitude came from questions asking about whether the Town of Creston is doing a good job in the area of customer service and communication. In 2009, only 43 per cent agreed or strongly agreed. The percentage increased to 61 per cent in the 2013 survey.
“I think this is a good reflection of the hard work we have put into communicating with residents, with things like the mayor’s coffee chats,” Coun. Scott Veitch said.
Firefighting services got the highest satisfaction rating among municipal services and facilities. Recreational and fitness opportunities were given a good or very good rating by 88.6 per cent of respondents.
If there was a cautionary message from those responding to the survey, it was on the subject of property taxation. Two-thirds said they preferred to maintain current property tax levels even if it means reducing levels of municipal services.
“It is always good to see that people are generally satisfied with their local government,” Mayor Ron Toyota said. “But this information is also a valuable tool when we are creating budgets, policies and strategic plans. It helps us set our priorities.”
•A request from the Ingham Arts and Culture Centre Society for a break on property taxes was referred to a future committee of the whole meeting.
In 2013 the society was not granted a reduction or exemption after council set a cap on the total property tax exemptions it would approve. The society was told at the time that it was not granted an exemption because it was not operational.
A renewed request includes information about activities that benefit the public, and an explanation that the parking lot south of the building is used by the general public and local businesses.
An addition to the town’s permissive tax exemption policy in 2013 says, “Council will now consider applications for permissive tax exemptions every three years and only advertise and accept new applications for consideration for in-between years if cap room exists or becomes available.”
•Toyota said that he had received about 80 messages regarding the recent broadleaf herbicide sprayed on Burns, Centennial and Millennium Parks. The issue was referred to a future committee of the whole meeting, to which Karolyn Whitford, who organized a petition against the spraying, and others will be invited.
•A town duffle bag will be donated to the Creston Valley Rotary Club for its annual Drive Fore Rotary golf tournament.
•Discussions with the Creston Rotary Club will continue with staff regarding the club’s proposal to create a one-year pilot project that would place a piano in the Canyon Street Walkthrough. The piano would be available for anyone to play and is intended to add interest to pedestrians in the downtown core.
•A town jacket will be donated to the Creston Wave Swim Club for its swim meet raffle.
•Council said thanks, but no thanks, to an invitation from the Ministry of State for Tourism and Small Business to compete for the 2014 Open for Business Award.
“These awards are valuable,” town manager Lou Varela said, “but the application process does take staff time away from what we already have scheduled.”
•A letter of support for Telus will be sent to the CRTC, which is considering ordering Telus to share its fibre-optic installations with competitors.
•Council authorized the signing of an agreement that will extend fire protection services to the Arrow Creek area, and define an automatic aid agreement between the town and Regional District of Central Kootenay for areas A, B and C. The contract must be approved by the RDCK before it becomes official.
“This is a really big win for this community to extend fire protection to a larger area,” Varela said.