Survey gathers input on leadership concerns
“Biggest Frustration” Online Survey Responses
Results as of 3:00pm October 5, 2018
Thanks for SPEAK-ing up, Kingston! The first survey was very well received, with more than 140 participants and 20 pages of comments in the first week.
Nearly all comments were supportive of having this pro-growth community discussion. This is just our first survey, and we plan to drill down on other hot topics as they emerge in the community!
Below are the summarized common themes and comments from you:
There is a large frustration shared by most respondents about the community not fostering constructive dialogue about smart growth and community issues. This confirms our belief that groups, and discussions like this, are much needed to balance the public dialogue with constructive, fact-based articles and comments.
Nearly half of the people responding to the survey said their biggest frustration as leaders is with small interest groups opposed to change and having a disproportionate voice in the community. They feel these groups are delaying any progress at all costs. Related comments include:
Small groups lobby for their interests and get disproportionate voice and coverage.
A recurring theme was frustration with a process that can be held up by a few very vocal opponents.
There is a lack of forum for having the dialogue. Few people really listen to both sides. The dialogue is not constructive, and is often polarizing.
The biggest frustration for many of our survey respondents was people with mindsets opposed to change.
Others mentioned the lack of support for intensification at public meetings as their biggest frustration.
These conversations can be very polarizing and people opposed to projects fear being labeled “anti-development”.
There isn’t a clear vision for the community on this subject.
There were comments about Councillors and city staff not following the Official Plan, and some feeling Councillors voted however they wanted to. Other respondents commented on how the Official Plan was being followed, but selectively interpreted by various community interests.
Votes behind closed doors were also mentioned as significant problems with the process — and a majority of these comments mentioned a desire for more transparency throughout the City.
On a related note, some frustrations were described as not having enough public involvement in decisions — conversely, some respondents also said there are too many public consultations, which slow down the process.
These were similar to thoughts that the city does a lot of consultation with field experts to reach conclusions, but then never act on them.
A couple of comments mentioned media focusing too much on the negative side of debates, and not highlighting successes or opportunities.
Comments also mentioned that a lot of the active voices (on both sides) put too much weight on special interests and personal opinions instead of information from experts.
Other summarized comments regarding information:
It is hard to get accurate information and a balanced view now. There aren’t many (or any) non-biased sources or information on growth in Kingston.
The sides are so polarized that it’s hard to get expert and reliable information.
There were some questions about the definition of “smart growth”. Many have slightly different definitions — ours is written here: https://www.speakingston.ca/#about-us.
With taxes, respondents typically had three views of what to do:
Reduce taxes, and alleviate the reduction in revenue with cuts in services.
Keep the tax rate increase constant with inflation and keep service levels the same.
Use increased taxes from additional economic growth to fund or expand City services.
Miscellaneous topics mentioned:
Youth retention and involvement in political discussions.
Various comments about traffic, roads and sidewalks.
Economic development – work on improving KEDCO, talent retention and business growth.
Too much income disparity, and the people at the “top” aren’t concerned with community growth.
Developers should be held to higher standards.
There is too much opposition to developers/developments. We need developments to create more affordable housing.