By David F. Rooney
City Hall has released a no-holds-barred “customer satisfaction survey” it hopes will, finally, provide it with some clear direction as to which municipal services residents wish to see retained — and ditched.
“This customer satisfaction survey (which you can access at revelstoke.ca/survey http://bit.ly/15Aexsd) will assist the City with the evaluation of current performance and identify areas for future improvement,” said a news statement released late Friday afternoon. “The survey results will also assist Council and staff in understanding the customer’s point of view on other pertinent issues.”
This online survey, which closes on October 18, should give all citizens an opportunity to make their voices heard at City Hall without their having to discard the cloak of anonymity way too many people think they need. The survey is simple and direct and can be accessed by any Revelstoke resident who has a computer. In fact, every resident who has a computer should fill out the survey. Mayor David Raven, our elected Councillors and our civil servants at City Hall deserve to know what people really think about our municipal services from animal control to Social Development and Public Works.
Have a conversation with just about anyone in town it quickly focuses on taxes and what seem to be ever-escalating service costs. Some of those public criticisms come from the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations and, occasionally, from ordinary citizens. Signed and forthright complaints are usually direct, well reasoned and public; others are anonymous grumbles from the shadows or rants — sometimes eloquent but usually semi-coherent — on the Stoke List and other social media.
Even when Council specifically asks (almost begs, in fact) for comments from the public at budget time, it rarely receives more than four or five e-mails or letters that are actually signed.
Official responses by the mayor when people complain are in the “what-do-you-want-us-to-cut?” vein, which more often than not simply shuts down open discussion because many of the ordinary people who actually do complain aren’t sure what can or should be cut. They simply know the City is borrowing and spending too much money and they want it to stop.
“This survey is one of many City initiatives to find ways on improving the customer experience with City Hall,” Tim Palmer, Revelstoke’s Chief Administrative Officer said in the statement. “Staff are committed to finding more ways to serve better and reduce costs for the taxpayer”
The survey is designed to give customers ample room to provide comments and opinions throughout. It supports Council’s community objective of communications enhancement, the statement said.
“We expect this survey to be an annual event,” Raven said in the statement. “This year’s survey will form a foundation for future Customer Satisfaction Surveys. It also signals a new era of engaging citizens from all sectors to provide guidance in effective community based priorities.”
The survey will take little more than five or 10 minutes to complete and its results will assist Council and staff in understanding the customer’s point of view on pertinent issues and specific questions of public policy such as: Should dogs be allowed downtown; should they be allowed at the Farmer’s Market; and, should they be allowed at public events?
“The City looks forwards to connecting with the public and will release the results of the survey by year end and in the 2013 annual report,” the statement said. “The results will also be utilized by Council in the budget process to help establish service priorities.”
This is one of the best tools created by the City in the last 12 years to determine what the public really thinks.
However, any poll or survey is only as good as the questions it asks and the number of responses it receives. The higher the rate of public participation in any survey the more accurate — in general — it is likely to be.
So, give City Hall a piece of your mind. Fill out the survey today.