I recently completed the Red Deer city survey on how we would like our tax dollars to be spent in upcoming years and I want to comment on this.
I have helped develop surveys several times in my career and I have found they can be a useful tool in determining general opinion. However, the writer/creator of any survey has the ability to lead and direct participants where they want them to go and even influence a participant’s opinion, both by the selection of questions (or omission of questions) contained in a survey and also by the wording of those questions and the wording of the provided answers given as options.
This survey does exactly that. In all of the options given on how a participant would like to see future tax dollars spent, our burgeoning debt was not once listed as an option, nor was it ever mentioned anywhere else in the survey. Our city is in debt for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and one would think that this is worthy of mention.
Another example is that road construction and snow removal was lumped into the same sentence as a spending option. I feel that our city streets need improvement and expansion to carry our rapidly increasing population, but on the other hand, I am pretty happy with our snow removal program the way it is, so this leaves the participant somewhat at odds on selecting this for an answer.
Yet another example of manipulating the participant is the choice of words used: what programs would you like “cut” — this is an interesting choice of a drastic word that implies we may lose a service or program all together, rather than selecting a less dramatic term like “reduced” or “downsized” or “balanced” — which would prompt an honest response from survey participants.
Another thing not mentioned is a $90-million Olympic-sized swimming pool. When you consider our overall debt load, this is a project that should be approached with extreme caution. However, city council seems hell bent on doing this whether we collectively want to or not, much like everything else they decide to do, like the bike lanes, for another example of poor management with no consideration for the taxpaying citizens of the city.
I honestly think egos get in the way of sound business decisions and that this city council is out of control and out of touch with reality and has been for many years.