RDN budget talks to include public consultation results

Director not impress with level of engagement

The Regional Board of Nanaimo will include public consultation results when the board deliberates on the proposed 2020 budget.

The 2020 preliminary budget was made available to the public on the RDN website last December. A video on the budget was also created for the public to view. It was also placed on Twitter and Facebook to give the community a chance to give their input. Newspapers ads were also placed to raise public awareness.

The public consultation results were presented at the RDN’s committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 14. Staff reported that 79 people visited the website with only one query made.

The video was viewed 10 times while there were 443 views recorded on Twitter with seven engagements. On Facebook, 2,325 people were reached and 64 engagements occurred. The video on Facebook was viewed 356 times.

Electoral Area B (Gabriola, DeCourcy, Mudge Islands) director Vanessa Craig expressed disappointment with the level of engagements received. She asked how the RDN consultation process compares to other areas and how they can improve it.

Jeannie Bradburne, director of finance, said the RDN results were consistent with other local governments. They were not surprised with the number of responses they’ve recorded.

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo preliminary budget proposes higher taxes in 2020

“Unfortunately it’s one of those things that we find most members of the public are not actually going to send a comment back,” Bradburne explained. “Quite often if you don’t hear anything that’s a good news story. If there’s something that’s concerning some people, that’s when we will hear from them.”

Qualicum Beach director Teunis Westbroek agreed with Bradburne’s views.

“If it’s something controversial or if you want to make a tax increase, people will respond to that,” said Westbroek. “Otherwise it is a good news story.”

City of Nanaimo director Tyler Brown doubts the accuracy of the number of visits and views collected. He feels there might be people that only scrolled and not viewed the entire video.

“These numbers don’t necessarily represent 159 video views,” said Brown. “I think basically what records a view is a view for just three seconds even if it’s a 10-minute video. It would be more beneficial if we have the information on how many people or what was the average length of the video viewed.”

Bradburne said that the consultation process is a challenge that they face every year on how they can increase the feedback they receive from the public.

“We’re definitely not alone in that in trying to coming up with different ways to hear more members of the public,” said Bradburne.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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