80% rate favourable quality of life in RDN, according to survey

Most people rate the quality of life in the Regional District of Nanaimo favourably, according to a community phone survey conducted last June.

A total of 562 interviews were completed for the RDN by consultant Deloitte. The maximum margin of error was +/- 4.1 per cent with a 95 per cent confidence interval. Separately, 643 online surveys were completed thorough the RDN’s Get involved website.

The sample size for the phone survey was in proportion to the populations within each area and municipality of the RDN. For the phone survey, Electoral Area B comprised 2 per cent of surveys conducted, equaling 11 people.

While the survey results are meant to provide data for directors to reference during the strategic planning process, many directors felt it wouldn’t be all that useful.

“This is a story of the dominant majority of the RDN and this may or may not reflect the experiences and the priorities of the minority populations,” the electoral areas and small districts like Lantzville, Electoral Area A Director Jessica Stanley said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable gauging strategic priorities from a generalized number – I don’t know if it reflects smaller rural areas.”

Nearly two-thirds of the responses to the phone survey were from the City of Nanaimo. RDN staff said the approach taken regarding sample size and representation of the whole region’s population was recommended by the consultant.

As for the survey results, 80 per cent rated the quality of life in the RDN as either good, very good or excellent. That rating is above average compared to other communities Deloitte conducts similar surveys for, Simon Webb of Deloitte told the board of directors at their Dec. 6, 2022 meeting.

Sixty-three per cent said they were somewhat satisfied with services provided by the RDN. Top themes that people expressed satisfaction were parks and green spaces, bus schedules and routes and garbage collection and recycling. Reasons for dissatisfaction included high taxes and spending, lack of focus on environmental issues, balancing new buildings and parks as well as services not under that RDN’s jurisdiction like road maintenance and snow removal.

As for satisfaction with strategic priorities, respondents were least satisfied with the RDN with regard to climate change, transportation and transit and housing. These were also noted as the top strategic priorities of focus from community members’ perspectives. Full survey results are available on the RDN’s Get Involved website.

Directors ultimately received the report for information and for consideration during the upcoming strategic planning process and expressed a desire to look at conducting future surveys differently. In January 2022, the board passed a motion to conduct a community engagement survey for the region every four years.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder