Friday, February 17, 2012

The City of Victoria Garbage Decision

So the City of Victoria council asked the opinion of the public on what option that wanted for garbage and compost pick up.

4316 surveys were returned.   146 were blank or their own option.  So 4170 people chose from A, B or C.   49.71% of the people opted for Option C.   Just short of an absolute majority and much, much higher than the second choice.  So council chose to go with Option B, the choice of 36.52% of the people.

There was a very concerted effort by CUPE local 50 to sway the public opinion towards Option A.  No one was pushing for Option B or C.   This says to me that Option A, the choice of only 13.77% of public, was artificially higher than it would have been otherwise.

Why bother asking the public their opinion if you are not going to pay any attention to it all?   It is not as if Option B was close to Option C in the survey.

Even if 49.71% was not enough for Option C to win out over 36.52% of Option B, the other piece of information council had was that 56% of the people that responded had cost as factor.   Number 1 issue for public was cost, number 2 issue was environment, and number 3 was the location of the pick up.  

The impact is that it will cost more to collect the garbage and the City will produce more greenhouse gases  -  this is because it takes more hours of truck operations in Option B than Option C.   So council specifically acted against the most popular option and then ignored the fact that cost and environment were the top issues for people.

The cost increase  is not much and really the issue is not a big deal for me, but it is insulting to consult with the public and then ignore that choice without any good reason or explanation.   The council is effectively saying that the opinion of the public does not matter.   "Fill in our survey and if your choice is the same as the decision we are going to make, we will say we paid attention to it."  It is the utter arrogance of bothering to ask what people wanted and then ignoring the results that galls me.

I would have thought that the city council would have figured out that when screwed up the process of consulting with the public around the Johnson Street Bridge they needed to pay more attention to public opinion.  I had high hopes for the new council in Victoria, but this decision, no matter how minor the issue, is wrong and undefensible.

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