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Survey [re sewers] says: Phones to be ringing soon
by Robin Wark, Sooke News Mirror September 10, 2003

Residents living in and near the District of Sooke's downtown core shouln't be surprised to be asked about sewers, infrastructure grants, and connection costs when they answer the phone in the evenings.

Council has decided to undertake a phone survey to determine the public's understanding of and feelings about the proposed $17.4 million system for the downtown core and such areas as the Broom Hill subdivision. The survey is expected to help guide council and staff during the public information part of the process before a slated Dec. 13 referendum on the system. The municipality's governing body vetted the questions Monday night and some residents could be involved in a phone "pre-test" as early as tonight. The pre-test includes 25 households and the survey's goal is 300 responses. The survey, which includes on average 18 questions, is expected to take three or four evenings to complete and the results will be delivered to council about two weeks later.

The president of the company hired to do the survey doesn't expect his interviewers to be brushed off like telemarketers often are.

"People have a vested interest to respond to the survey," said T. Brian Killip of Venture Market Research Ltd., which will be paid $8,500 for its work.

Coun. George OBriain was concerned if a couple of questions about the pros and cons of the system were slanted to receive certain responses. Killip assured the councillor they were not intentionally slanted and balance was strived for.

The queries that caught OBriain's attention were:

  • "What do you consider to be the benefits of having a sewer system installed in Sooke?"
  • "And are there any downsides associated with installing a sewer system?"

OBriain also wondered why the survey did not touch on such issues as the ocean outfall and whether tertiary treatment is desired. Killip said the idea was to stay away from the technicalities and give council a general sense of how those in the service area feel.

A number of questions refer to residents having to hook-up. Coun. John Stephen wondered if that was appropriate to ask as council hasn't yet made that decision. He suggested council could set a policy in which residents would pay the estimated $650 a year fee but would not have to hook-up and pay for that unknown additional cost if they have a working septic field. However, administrator Tom Day said he believed it was a condition of the $11.6 million Canada-B.C. Infrastructure grant Sooke received that homes in the service area must connect. Day said he would research the issue.

Killip said each interview subject is supposed to be the home's principal decision maker. He hopes the entire interview takes less than eight minutes but he said in test runs it has gone to near 10 minutes. As well as questions about the project people will be asked about their income, age and how many people live in their household. This information will be compared to census data to see that a sample representative of the area is taken.

The calls are expected to occur between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Coun. Lorna Barry expressed a concern that people would be bothered during supper time. Killip said different families dine at various times so it is hard to miss supper time. But he said callbacks can be arranged.

Killip said a pre-test is done to make sure the questions are easy to understand.

"If we get a lot of 'don't knows' for a question, we'll want to look at that," said Killip, who noted his business has done surveys for universities, other government bodies and private businesses such as grocery stores. Its call centre is located on Spencer Road, but Killip said his interviewers dial out to locations all over North America.

The president told councillors they could come down to his company's office and listen in on the interview process. But he said there will be confidentiality and councillors will not learn from the company who responded and how.

Sewer survey sample

The following are some sample sewer survey questions, taken from the package presented to Sooke council Monday night for its review:

  1. How informed to you feel you are about the issues related to the proposed sewer system?
  2. What is the maximum dollar amount hour household would be willing to pay for the one time hook-up or installation cost?
  3. If financing is available that will allow homeowners to pay for the initial hook-up costs over a number of years, would this increase your support for the sewer project?
  4. What is the best way for the district to make sure you are kept informed about the sewer system?



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