October has become one of the City's main consultation periods. In 2016, our public engagement included the following:
- Neighbourhood conversations – five were held, in College Heights, Blackburn, The Hart, downtown at the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, and in the Bowl at CNC. More than 220 people attended these events.
- Citizen Budget – This online budget simulator tool attracted nearly 440 visitors. 134 completed the survey.
What did we hear during Talktober?
The Talktober neighbourhood conversations involved a variety of displays from City staff and provided a forum for residents to interact with staff and elected officials. A large number of topics were raised and several themes were repeated frequently:
- Beautification and revitalization of various areas, including the downtown – this included comments about controlling weeds along roadways, public art, and community gardens.
- Housing – this included calls for more diverse housing in Prince George such as seniors housing distributed in various areas of Prince George, student housing downtown, and generally more affordable housing mixed with other uses such as retail.
- Parks and Trails – In many neighbourhoods, residents expressed interest in the development of multi-use, destination parks right within their neighbourhood. There were also suggestions related to enhancing connectivity between existing trails, enhancing the riverfront, and retaining urban forests.
- Active transportation – Bike lanes and sidewalks, particularly around schools, were frequently discussed. Residents suggested greater diversity of bus service, more accessible sidewalks and trails, and greater overall integration between sidewalks, trails, and bus service.
- Infrastructure – Residents expressed suggestions for enhanced road rehabilitation (especially gravel roads), enhanced lighting and intersection signals, crosswalks, and water conservation.
The neighbourhood conversations provided the opportunity for attendees to use stickers to "vote" for the infrastructure categories that matter most to them. Parks and Trails emerged as the top priority during this exercise, followed closely by sport and rec facilities, cultural and community facilities, and roadways and lighting.
The same opportunity to indicate capital investment priorities was part of Citizen Budget.
10 different infrastructure categories were presented, with respondents asked to indicate their level of importance for each one. The category with the greatest number of "important" and "very important" votes was Roadways and Street Lighting, followed very closely by Sport and Recreation Facilities. Water and Sewer was the category with the greatest number of "Very Important" votes.
Operational Priorities and Citizen Budget
The Citizen Budget survey was filled out by residents who generally have lived in Prince George for a long time (85% have lived in Prince George for more than 10 years) and 82% own their own home. More than half of the respondents were between the ages of 35 and 55. 22% were over 55.
Citizen Budget provides survey respondents with the opportunity to alter the funding they would allocate to 12 City functions/services. It is unique in that it allows respondents to provide the assessed value for their home. As a result, whenever a survey participant alters the budget for a City service/function, the change is automatically calculated for their personal property tax assessment. In other words, participants are able to see the real cost of their responses.
Recreation Services was identified most frequently as an area that should get a funding increase. Other areas that attracted most of the requests for funding increases were police services, snow control, transportation, and parks.
Respondents also identified areas that they believed should get less funding. These were corporate services, the Library, bylaw services, planning and development, and community grants.
Fire protection and asset management were recommended to have no change in funding levels.
Click here for Talktober 2015 information.