Results of the Village of Keremeos 2011 Citizen Survey were presented to village council recently.
Council made a decision last spring to consult the public in order to gauge opinion on various issues related to village provided services. A survey was placed in the 2011 property tax notices, and residents were urged to respond to the questionnaire.
Out of 850 surveys sent out, the village received a total of 191 responses – representing 22 per cent of the total households in the Keremeos catchment area. The majority of respondents were in the 56 to 68 years and 69 and over categories.
Residents were asked questions pertaining to quality of life, experience with village staff, and how the village could improve service delivery.
Overall, council and staff should be quite pleased with the survey results. Although the results represent less than a quarter of the ratepayers, the lack of response seems indicative that the remaining 80 per cent had no issues severe enough – positive or negative – to warrant a response.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents expressed quality of life in the village to be good; 26 per cent claimed it was very good, while 25 per cent said it was adequate or needed improvement. Only 10 per cent felt that conditions in the village had deteriorated over the past year.
The village broke down responses to resident satisfaction with the various services provided by the village. They included such categories as road maintenance, sewer services, parks, trails and green spaces, bylaw enforcement and downtown beautification.
Parks / trails and green spaces attracted the least amount of negative attention, while bylaw enforcement and road maintenance were seen as two items that needed the most improvement. Other frequently notable negative comments included the location and smelliness of the sewage treatment plant and more specifically (to the bylaw enforcement complaints) complaints related to dogs.
Asking residents about their experiences with village staff elicited a 78 per cent positive assessment. For the most part, villagers have no issue with staff’s treatment of their issues – the most common complaints being that staffing levels were too high, and the feeling that residents were being given “lip service” to their issues, rather than real concern.
Several returns dealt with single topic issues – complaints reinforcing one time issues that had come before council in the past year – such as speed bumps and the Spirit Square initiative.
Here is a sampling of comments received by the village through the survey:
How can the village improve service delivery?
– Too many dogs running loose all the time.
– Increase taxes and use money to relocate the sewer plant.
– Bylaw enforcement certainly seems biased and is not enforced in a democratic way. Policing from the RCMP seems to be for the most part minimal.
– Good on snow removal. General maintenance is sketchy at times. We need sewer services on the hill. Not sure what bylaws are enforced. Dogs run everywhere, back yard business seem to be running without any attention paid.
-Dog bylaw? Hedges over sidewalks and corners.
– Loose dogs problem. Waste of water.
– Coming into town from Princeton could look nicer, just seems Blah! Too many fruit stand signs. Get people to clean up their yards, especially downtown, maybe the Busy Bee should clean up behind the fence.
Comments were also elicited regarding why respondents answered the way they did on the quality of life issue. They answered:
– Satisfied with everything.
– I would like to see our town cleaner and our streets swept much better, too much sand in the winter.
– Peaceful, quiet, amenities available meet our needs, seniors are well cared for, Diagnostic Centre has been accommodating, cost of living is affordable, community spirit is alive and well.
– I am content with living in Keremeos.
– Things are just fine.
– Bylaw enforcement is invisible when it is most needed.
– We are doing okay here and do not expect all the services of a city.
– Small village, small tax base, village must be real cost conscientious due to inflation to make every dollar count.
– More open business and investment in commercial buildings ( paint, etc.)
– Too much spraying within the village.
– Taxes too high and roads unsafe for walking.
– Nice and clean.
Council received the report and resolved to consider the results in the 2012 budget discussion and strategic priority setting session. The mayor, noting in his report to council that the two major issues of significant concern seemed to be unsightly premises and bylaw enforcement related matters. He committed to discussing these issues with council and staff in the hopes of finding some partial answers to problems noted by the end of this year.