Are local government satisfaction ratings rising or falling in the Comox Valley? It depends on where you live | George Le Masurier photo
The Week: The heart of our survey is in the comments, not the hard numerical data
We published the results of our Local Government Performance Review this week and it created lots of buzz for those who follow local politics. Most people don’t, of course, unless the politicians do something to tick them off, like raise taxes, or do something really good, like reduce taxes.
The majority of people only get excited about local politics when an election comes around. So, being closer to the next election than the last one, we wondered how satisfied people were with their elected officials.
And, boy, did they tell us. It would be an understatement to say there were a lot of strong opinions expressed in the survey comments.
But here’s something to keep in mind about this survey. It wasn’t a random sampling of the Comox Valley population, at least not in the sense of a poll by Agnus Reid or Gallup.
If it had been, then our sample size of 314 respondents would have had a 4.65 percent margin of error with 90 percent probability that the sample accurately reflected the attitudes of the whole Comox Valley.
But we broke our survey down so that only people who identified as voting in Courtenay, for example, could rate their level of satisfaction with city councillors. It was the same for all jurisdictions.
And the respondents to our survey self-selected to participate. Many, perhaps most, may be regular Decafnation readers, although the sample was only a percentage of our subscriber base.
So the Local Government Performance Review was designed to be qualitative research, not quantitative. It was meant to describe the reasoning and motivations behind respondents satisfaction ratings, rather predict anything based on the hard numerical data.
So do not look at this survey and conclude that if an election were held tomorrow, Daniel Arbour would get 89 percent of the vote in Area A or that only 24 percent of voters in Comox would choose Russ Arnott for mayor.
But the survey does highlight the difference in attitudes between jurisdictions, and here the numbers and the comments intersect.
Most respondents in Courtenay and Areas A and B like how their elected officials have performed and the comments explain why. Respondents were not happy in Comox or Area C and here the comments were even more pointed and passionate.
By reading the comments, you gain an understanding of why the respondents approved or disapproved of their local government and politicians.
The last civic election in 2018 brought transformative change to the Comox Valley when voters elected more progressive-mined people in Courtenay and Electoral Areas A and B. This altered the conversation in those areas and, as a result, also at the important regional district board table.
And so far, at least, there’s an indication that this survey’s respondents are satisfied with that.
— A farmer who leases some of the Courtenay Flats from Duck Unlimited fears that an expansion of the Highway 19A bypass will negatively impact his roadside farm stand business. Nobody wants to choose between farmland and more roads.
But the possibility of widening the highway bypass shouldn’t surprise anyone. It was planned decades ago.
The City of Courtenay and the Ministry of Transportation have been seeking a solution to growing congestion at the 17th Street bridge. Two years ago, a consultant working with the city on its Transportation Master Plan, suggested a bridge at 21st Street and set off fire alarms in diverse segments of the community.
A bridge at that location would have cut through the heart of the Courtenay Airpark and forced the facility to close. It would have connected on the other side of the river into the heart of the Kus-kus-sum and derailed a joint city and KFN reconciliation project.
The city never intended a bridge at 21st and deleted the overreaching consultant’s bad idea. But a serious conversation ensued about a third crossing and the city’s limited options and alternatives.
Among the most promising short-term solutions was raised by Dan Bowen, a former Highways Ministry employee.
The primary problem, he said then, is that there are two northbound lanes of traffic approaching the bridge from the south on Cliffe Avenue and two lanes on the bridge. But whether you turn north or south, you have to merge down to one lane.
It’s the same approach to the bridge from the north on the Island Highway bypass, which is two lanes at Superstore, but merges down to one lane at the bridge.
Bowen believes there should be four lanes of traffic approaching the 17th Street bridge, across the bridge and then all the way to the Shell gas station at the old Island Highway and also part way toward Comox.
The long-term solution, he said, is to twin the 17th Street bridge. The highways ministry purchased extra land on the northside of 17th Street east of Cliffe Avenue to anticipate a widened bridge. That land looks like a park with cherry trees.
The ministry also designed the bypass for four lanes, which is why the shoulders are extra wide through the S-turns.
We don’t know what the ministry surveyors were doing when they alarmed the Courtenay Flats farmer, but it’s possible they were gathering new data about expanding the bypass into four lanes.
As Bowen said, that was the plan from the beginning but the province opted for a half-measure. It should have put four lanes in right away. It would have been less expensive in the long run and farmers and farm stands could have developed as they did, just in a slightly different location.
— Anyone else a little disturbed that the U.S. is vaccinating about 1.7 million people per day while nearly three months after vaccines became available, Canada still hasn’t vaccinated that many in total?
And Canadians can’t tell whether the Trudeau government screwed up its negotiations for vaccine supplies or if the drug companies screwed us because Ottawa has kept the deal a secret.
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The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students
Faith-based volunteers can contribute positively to the educational experience in our public schools but everyone must be perfectly clear about who they are, what they can and cannot do and school administrators must monitor their activity closely and consistently
What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?
A Comox Valley developer is suing the Town of Comox because his permits to cut down trees and build more single-family homes haven’t been issued as fast as he’s wanted and because the town wants a wider walking trail through the property
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THE WEEK: Let the people have a larger voice at Comox Valley council meetings
Making it easier for citizens to speak directly to municipal councils might increase public interest in local government, which in turn might encourage more registered voters to actually cast a ballot
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THE WEEK: Water supplies are good, fireworks are bad and where Daniel Arbour lives
Despite the long drought this summer, Comox Valley water system supplies have not been threatened; the BC Wildfire Service has banned fireworks this year and clarifying Daniel Arbour’s place of residence
Let’s put one of the craziest Comox Valley elections into the history book, and then close it
It was weird. But when the sun rose on Oct. 16, Comox Valley voters had made it clear they liked the direction charted by our local governments. In the municipalities, they elected all but two incumbents. In most races, the vote was a definite pat on the back for a job well done.
A few random items as the 2022 election comes to a close
Long-time public official Bronco Moncrief dies, Manno Theos hangs out in Greece, and Daniel Arbour reacts to lies about his campaign finances
The current council in Courtenay has only one agenda. Bicycles. They don’t care about seniors using cars to get around. They don’t care about pollution caused by the bottlenecks in traffic, they don’t want to see the population growth in the valley. They effectively blocked the only sensible river crossing at the 29th, by allowing a huge complex to be built there. Instead they are discussing the width of a gangway at the 6th. The disaster top of the 5th resulted in a lot of angry comments. The latest issue is the crossing on Ryan hill and Farquharson Farm trim.
I would like to make all these issues public for the people before the next elections. Oh, and BTW, the City Hall is closed, did you know? All other stores, offices, insurances apply Covid protections and stay open for the public. Not our woke group. When asked, I got the answer, that they are essential service, so if one of them got sick, they would have to close down. Duh!
So they are closed, so they wouldn’t have to close down! The latest I heard from the provincial gov. was, that essential services must stay open. The 5th bridge painting discussion just slipped my mind. Go ahead and look it up. What a local government! Did you know, that the mayor gets 128K? And the head biker (I won’t name him) 60K? Do you make that much working? It you are happy with them, just give them your vote.
This is a good time for Comox Valley residents to reflect on what the ‘new normal’ should look like after winter and Covid is over. Maybe conversations should start in households about what we value going forward. Then expand the discussion with friends and neighbors by Zooming etc. In order for small communities to marshal resources, human and financial, to support new initiatives, it is important for elected officials to feel confident that they have a level of consensus in the community about priorities. Hopefully the new Official Community Plan for Courtenay will have engaged all ages in the process and lead to actions which we can all support. And in the process help build a sense of community. Ours is an aging community with many new residents from away. Time to bring everyone together under the big tent.
My money is on Trudeau, screwing up big time and now knows he’s behind the eight ball, trying to appease everyone.
Yes -dismal leadership from Ottawa, all parties. Not much choice for voters, Liberals have shown their true colours, incompetent during one of Canada,s largest health and economic disasters.
Finally , international air travel restrictions , after a year of ineffective measures compared to the democracies of New Zealand and Australia.-Now back to “normal”.
Canadians deserve better.