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Seasonal workers no longer part of Community Life Survey

Municipal staff looking for information to help guide budgetary process



The rising cost of surveys has meant that seasonal workers will no longer be part of the Community Life Survey, which is now under way in Whistler.

Tracking down and speaking to seasonal workers over the phone could increase the cost of the survey by as much as $10,000. It currently costs $21,000 to complete.

"The timing of the survey has been prioritized, so input can be received as part of the annual budget process," said the RMOW Communications department via email. No one was available for comment by press time.

"This doesn't coincide with a time when as many seasonal residents are here. The 2010 survey was in November (too soon for seasonal residents to have experienced Whistler) and this survey is in June (when not as many seasonal residents are around)."

The two-week telephone survey, which started June 15, is aimed at helping measure resident satisfaction in several areas including parks and infrastructure, services, decision making, taxation and the 2013 budget. Five hundred random telephone interviews will be conducted with 300 full-time residents and 200 second homeowners. The survey, being conducted by Vancouver-based market research firm Mustel Group, will take approximately 15 minutes to complete with eight categories of questions; Living in Whistler, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Health and Community Relationships, Education and Employment, Community Living and Decision Making, Satisfaction with Services, Priorities for Budget Allocation and Tax.

The last Community Life Survey was conducted in December 2010 and this year will again include an online component targeted towards residents without landline telephones. While there were over 270 online surveys completed voluntarily in 2010, the results were published separately as the sampling was not random or controlled.

Review of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 survey results revealed that there had been a roughly 30 per cent increase in satisfaction with road maintenance and snow clearing services. Budget allocation for road services is a high priority for the municipality, with over 100 kilometres of roads that need to be maintained and cleared throughout the valley.

The most consistently positive responses over the three years of surveys were on the subjects of opportunities available for recreational and physical activities, access to nature and access to parks. All these questions have consistently scored between 97 and 99 per cent satisfaction. The survey will again include these questions.

Transit received an increase in satisfaction between 2008 and 2010, yet public opinion on the level of transit service in Whistler has severely declined since the 19 per cent cut in annual service hours in November 2011. The cut to service corresponded to $1.5 million in savings to the Whistler taxpayer.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden is encouraging the community to participate in the survey, stating that community engagement is one of the priorities identified in the Council Action Plan

"The community life survey is one of the first steps in the 2013 budget planning process, which is now underway, and will help to inform our overall municipal plans moving forward," said the mayor in a press release.