OCP survey still needs voices

Last week, 6,649 reminder letters were sent out.

Extra costs associated with the six-fold increase in Official Community Plan survey reminder letters sent out in the last two weeks should be paid by the survey company, not taxpayers says one Oak Bay councillor.

“They should cover the cost, that’s my expectation,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch at the Oct. 15 council meeting, referring to Points of View Research, the company hired to oversee the survey.

Originally, 1,200 reminder letters were going to be sent out but that was increased after a number of residents complained the envelopes the survey came in looked like junk mail. Concern was raised that many residents may have thrown the letter out without opening it because of its generic appearance. Last week, 6,649 reminder letters were sent out.

Interim CAO Gary Nason acknowledged there will be an increase in cost, but didn’t have the exact figure. He also said discussion on who will cover the extra expense can’t be publicly debated.

“Negotiations are not done in public,” Nason said, adding he will take Murdoch’s concern under advisement. “The expectation is for negotiations to be fair and that we come to a fair (agreement) for both parties.”

Nason assured council the reminder letters are more “official” looking. Coun. Pam Copley agreed.

“I’ve seen the envelope,” Copley said. “They are very clear in terms of their origin.”

As of 4 p.m. Monday, 1,764 online and 142 paper surveys were received after an initial mail out of 8,089 in late September, resulting in a response rate of 24 per cent.

The municipality had aimed for a 20 per cent response rate, whereas Points of View Research anticipated a 10 to 15 per cent response rate.

The deadline to respond to the survey is Oct. 30, but the online survey will remain on the district’s website for a few days after and mail-in surveys will be accepted for a few more days as well.

Those who have not received the invitation can still participate by calling 1-866-299-0464.