Oak Bay satisfaction survey’s deer, demographic numbers questioned

Council reviews citizen satisfaction study results

Deer and demographics spurred the most questions from council on the recent citizen satisfaction survey.

The statistics come from a resident satisfaction survey done by NRG Research Group between Sept. 20 and Oct. 4, when 414 households responded – 400 by telephone and 14 by email.

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Results from an online survey over a similar period are presented separately.

The survey showed 99 per cent said Oak Bay’s overall quality of life is good or very good.

Key reasons for the satisfaction include the secure feeling of a low crime rate, natural beauty of the area, proximity to key services such as shops, schools and recreation, along with good municipal services and a strong sense of community.

Of those who responded to the survey, 70 per cent feel there is an overpopulation of deer in Oak Bay.

Those who feel there is an overpopulation are likely to support an increase in property taxes to fund efforts to reduce the deer population. About 70 per cent would support a tax increase, including 37 per cent who would strongly support the measure. Nearly three in ten of those who perceive an overpopulation of deer, would oppose a property tax increase to fund efforts to reduce the deer population.

About 78 per cent of those who feel there is a deer overpopulation would support a deer cull, assuming it was the only option available – 59 per cent would strongly support such a deer cull – and 20 per cent opposed a deer cull even if it were the only option available.

Coun. Eric Zhelka noted that assuming that those who don’t feel there is an overpopulation of deer would not support a tax increase or cull, the numbers change.

With those numbers removed, it drops to 50 per cent support for increase in property taxes and 55 per cent would support a deer cull.

Zhelka also noted that the margin of error – cited as a maximum for the total sample is plus/minus 4.6 per cent 19 times out of 20 – goes up with the smaller sample.

Coun. Tara Ney pointed to the representation sample with 80 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older with about 19 per cent between 18 and 54, reported as 46 per cent in that demographic last census.

NRG said while survey research tends to skew older, they minimize that by including cell phone samples in the random dialling as well as using a “next birthday” selection method asking to speak to the person with the next birthday, not just the person who answers the phone.

She was told the only answer would be to expand the survey, creating specific target numbers for individual demographics.

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite noted that too could create a problem if a demographic such as the older set is full, telling a resident who has paid taxes to the municipality for decades, they’re not required for the survey.

Braithwaite also noted the demographics broke down to eight per cent renters and 90 per cent owners while the last census numbers available show closer to 30 per cent rent in the community.

Council looked at the survey, and took the results into account, during its day-long strategic planning session Friday at municipal hall.