Survey open on budget until Oct. 22. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Survey open on budget until Oct. 22. (Chilliwack Progress file)

Citizen budget survey on City of Chilliwack spending priorities set to close

‘It is important for residents to share personal, community priorities,’ CCFC member said

A progressive group of Chilliwack citizens is urging residents to complete a budget survey before the deadline Friday (Oct. 22) to offer input on how City of Chilliwack should be spending their tax money.

City officials are working on next year’s budget right now, as they do every fall as part of updating the 10-year financial plan, to determine municipal spending up to 2031.

“It is important for residents to share their personal and community priorities in this crucial stage, before the plan is created, to have the greatest influence on the direction Chilliwack takes in the next 10 years,” said Cody Chance, spokesperson for Chilliwack Citizens for Change (CCFC).

RELATED: Citizen budget tool needs input

The survey, which opened on Sept. 22, allows Chilliwack citizens to rate the importance of various spending categories from planning and development, police, fire and other protective services, transportation, parks, recreation and culture.

The CCFC release underlined that about 33 per cent of city taxes go to pay for RCMP costs, with 10 per cent to fire protection. That’s in addition to other protective service categories like bylaw enforcement and emergency preparedness. They estimate that almost half the budget is earmarked for safety and protection.

“We encourage people to think critically about different ways to spend tax money and different ways to increase funding,” said CCFC spokesperson Meg McCusker.

This emphasis on protective services is “reactionary,” McCusker added, since it targets “symptoms, rather than causes. Proactively reducing crime through social change reduces officer workload and the need for more officers.”

The survey only takes a few minutes for citizens to complete, said Eryne Croquet, also speaking on behalf of CCFC, but the survey template could be improved.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer space to leave comments for all the questions, so be sure to share your thoughts in greater depth in the final two sections, where there are comment boxes,” she added.

Once completed, citizens can offer feedback on the survey itself. This is important, according to CCFC, because it will help the city continue to improve the survey in future years.

That said, some CCFC members have overall concerns with survey accessibility, design, and function.

“For example, we noted that the sliders in the section asking how much the resident would choose to spend on various city services don’t have even increments, making it impossible to select an amount between $250 and $500,” said Croquet. “We think that could be improved.”

Chilliwack Citizens for Change is a progressive group seeking to engage locals in actions leading to positive change for the whole community.

Residents can take the survey until Oct. 22:

• Online at http://chilliwackbudget2022.ethelo.net;

• In person at city hall (get it from front window at city hall and return survey in person or by mail to 8550 Young Rd., Chilliwack, B.C. V3P 8A4, c/o Finance Department);

• Anyone with access needs or additional questions about the survey, contact the finance department directly at budget@chilliwack.com or 604-792-9311.

RELATED: Citizens weighed in virtually on 2020 budget

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