INNISFAIL – One of the world’s leading market researchers will soon be calling hundreds of local citizens to measure the public pulse on the quality of living in Innisfail.
Town council gave the green light to an administration recommendation to hire Ipsos, the third-largest market research firm in the world, to conduct the town’s first ever Citizen Satisfaction Survey at a cost of $22,000.
The project was first brought to council’s attention at its July 5 Agenda & Priorities meeting, and again at the July 12 regular meeting where it was approved unanimously.
Erica Vickers, the town’s new director of corporate services, said her research uncovered 15 other municipalities that are now doing citizen satisfaction surveys, which have proven to be crucial for future strategic planning and budgeting.
“I am sure there are many more, and Ipsos is one of the leading companies in Canada that completes these surveys,” said Vickers. “Sometimes when we complete surveys on our own it is harder for us to control who completes the survey. We are not getting information just from one type of person or not the people who are active only on Facebook.”
During her presentation to council on July 5, Vickers said citizen surveys were important for several reasons, including providing opportunities to “layer science into on-going feedback” the town receives from citizens and to explore “the connections” between different views and perspectives.
As well, she added, it’s an opportunity for the town to demonstrate at the public level its desire to seek citizen input into the decision-making process.
The completed survey can also be used as a guide for the 2022 budget, as well as vital information for council after the election to create a new four-year strategic plan.
During the July 12 meeting Vickers told council it would be “best” to conduct the survey prior to the Oct. 18 general municipal election. She said if the town moved “right away” it would finalize the questionnaire of 15 questions by July 30 and send them to Ipsos, which had already provided a draft timeline to complete the project.
She said the town would then have the draft detailed report by the end of September.
Council was told Ipsos is aiming to talk to a minimum of 300 citizens, with 30 per cent on cell phones and 70 per cent via landlines, between Aug. 10 and 22.
Gender and age quotas will also be applied for the survey, with the total time for each interview taking about 15 minutes.
Vickers said on July 14 the questions put to citizens had yet to be determined but she offered some ideas from what the Town of Canmore did, such as whether the town overall is safe, or how citizens felt about the overall quality of life, and whether it had improved, stayed the same or worsened.
She said probable questions would be ones seeking views on the town’s programs, amenities and services.
Council was told on July 5 that once Ipsos data collection is completed the company will prepare a detailed PowerPoint report for the town’s review, input and ultimate approval.
She told council the $22,000 project cost could be funded from the 2021 contingency fund, which now has a balance of $26,730.
As for the future, Vickers told council the survey could be done every two or four years.
“We do think every two years does make sense just so you can watch those trends,” she said, adding the cost for future surveys could be included in budgets for council to consider.
Council was told administration will work with lpsos to develop a project communication plan to the residents of Innisfail.