The City of Prince Rupert has unveiled a new method of gathering public input, holding its first live voting session last week.
Using the special council meeting held at the Lester Centre of the Arts on March 9 as a forum, citizens had the opportunity to digitally voice their opinion on a number of topics related to the city’s finances.
Through a survey powered by Poll Everywhere, Rupertites answered four multiple-choice questions from their mobile phones and online, with their responses immediately being tallied and projected onto a screen at the Lester Centre. Paper copies of the poll were also available at the meeting.
The inaugural live voting session was held in conjunction with the first opportunity for public comment on the city’s 2015 budget. Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain said the electronic poll allowed the city to get a snapshot of how the public feels about some of the topics that have arose during this year’s budget process.
“Not everybody wants to speak on a mic and express their concerns. We wanted to have it so people could vote anonymously and send a clear message to council on certain key topics,” Brain explained.
The first question projected on the Lester Centre-screen asked residents if they considered a 1.9 per cent mill rate increase reasonable, with 22 individuals digitally voting ‘yes’ and seven ‘no’. On paper, three answered ‘yes’ and two ‘no’.
When asked if they agreed the city needs an asset management plan to address aging infrastructure, 24 electronic voters answered ‘yes’ and one ‘no’. Five people filling out the paper poll agreed the city needs an asset management plan.
The next question, “Do you support using Legacy Inc funds to provide the capacity the city needs to plan for major projects?”, received 25 votes in favour and three against digitally. In the paper results, four were in favour and one was unsure.
The final question asked if residents supported a full-time mayor, with the electronic results showing 24 people did and seven didn’t. There were four marked down as ‘yes’ and one as ‘no’ on the paper copies.
“It was very clear there was support for the four things we laid out. I thought that was very interesting,” Brain said of the results.
“[Based on] the fact that it worked so good this time, I think we’ll be doing a lot of polls in the future.”
Additionally, during the meeting last Monday Brain announced the city is initiating a monthly dialogue session where people can express concerns regularly and in a less formal environment.