My survey postcard on St. Albert's speed review arrived on Sept. 23, ironically the day I chose to pay my 2020 municipal taxes – it is great to see my tax dollars hard at work. While I am not opposed to council surveying residents for this and other bylaws being considered, surely it could be done more economically.
In February, city council set aside $20,000 to hire a consulting firm for public engagement on the proposed changes. By my calculation, approximately 18,000 family units received the survey request via Canada Post with an invitation to respond, postage paid. While I know Canada Post offers reduced postage on this type of mailings and the fact not all 18,000 households will respond, the postage alone would eat up most of the money put aside. Politikos Research located in Garibaldi Highlands, B.C., with nine PhDs on their long list of staff probably didn’t come cheap even given the simplicity of the survey. If $20,000 will cover the cost including postage, I am impressed council has garnered this company at that price. Maybe this is the reason they sought a company outside of our area and indeed Alberta.
Further, the City’s and Politikos’ website show that implementing recommendations in the report are estimated to cost $365,000. Sounds like they know what St. Albertans will recommend and the associated costs. If residents disagreed with all of the questions and council respected the response why would there be any implementation cost?
Given the simplicity of the survey, why not use something as simple as Survey Monkey-type software to generate similar results at a substantial less cost? Better still, why not email out a survey request/link to the utility bill addresses you have on file – it is my understanding very few residents opted out. Given the expected number of people reached I am sure requested responses would give council a sense of what residents would like to see albeit the preliminary cost estimates would suggest council has already decided on their vote. A survey conducted in this manner would cost the city and by extension taxpayers very little with the same findings.
Paul Dill, St. Albert