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Pender Harbour BBS / LOCAL ISSUES: Decisions and situations that affect all of us in Pender Harbour. / The Dump Debate - Transfer Station or Status Quo?
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whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 23 Feb 2010 10:11


Whiteguy, I would be very interested in following up on the abuse issue...would you please elaborate.

Welcome to the discussion, John France. Glad to elaborate. What I meant by abuse was that our input was ignored, we were insulted and condescended to as a group, and our serious concerns were dismissed with specious and contradictory answers. Director Janyk was not the only offender with his unforgiveable taunt that we should "evolve." I felt he was just saying out loud what many others were thinking--that the wishes of these Area A people do not deserve serious consideration because as a group we are somehow benighted and can't be trusted to make intelligent decisions. Director Shugar betrayed this sentiment in a less direct way when she argued against a second referendum because "there is misinformation floating around in Area A...we have the correct information, so what's the point?"

You say that the SCRD has consulted with our community but true consulting involves finding out what the voters in the most directly affected area want and respecting them--in this case the SCRD's actions look more like an effort to avoid finding out what residents want and avoid having to represent them. You did a survey and found out that 83% wanted to keep the landfill, but rejected that finding in an unseemly display of evasive and contradiictory excuses. When we confirmed the finding by producing a petition in favour of the landfill signed by 39% of the electorate, board and staff continued to make debatable excuses to deny the obvious. When our director sensibly proposed a second survey to settle the matter, the board declared in efect that it didn't really matter what Area A thinks. This, I submit, is an abuse of the regional district concept and an abuse of democratic process. I believe by bullying Area A the way it has on this landmark issue, the current SCRD regime has handed Area A to the pro-incorporation movement, and I say that as someone who has worked hard to defend regional government here. I never dreamed the board would use its power to strip our area of key infrastructure and frustrate our aspirations to remain a self-sufficient community the way it has done on this issue. In my opinion there is no way even its staunch suopporters can defend the SCRD after this exercise in short-sighted and heavy-handed governance.

dar7yl
Member
# Posted: 23 Feb 2010 11:53 - Edited by: dar7yl


how about we keep our landfill usable while we transfer our waste to Sechelt

I agree with formerbluenose. If the transfer station is a "done deal", and we cannot prevent it, do we have to shut down our landfill?

What are the costs of decommissioning the landfill opposed to maintaining it's certification for future use, when the Sechelt dump goes toxic?

Even if the transfer station alternative is selected (forced upon us), it could be a reversible decision, and we can go back to our own waste management system. Especially if the maintenance plan includes provision for expansion over the long term - a cheaper solution than the gung-ho expansion plans presented to us today.

Over the long term, I advocate composting, reclamation, resource recovery and re-use. A plasma generator can be purchased for < $1M, fits in a standard container, has more than enough capacity for our use, and is scalable for future expansion. It can produce electricity which can be sold back to BC Hydro, and fly-ash bricks which can be used for construction.

Move GRIPS to the dump. Part of the reason I don't frequently use it is it's location at that corner of misery mile. If it was at the dump, everything would be at one place for convenient one-stop shopping.

whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 23 Feb 2010 18:21


Good point, Dar7yl. There is no time limit on the landfill's poermit, just a space limit. But you better believe, if they get the vote they want at Thursday's board meeting, that permit will be cancelled at the first opportunity. Some people around the SCRD have been waiting half their lives for this. Hope everybody is going to come down and give John and me some moral support--it will be the last chance. SCRD offices on Fiekld Road, Thur. Feb 25 at 7:30.

John Rees
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 13:02


Thanks to all who came to the critical meeting at SCRD last night.

We were able to postpone a final decision, and convinced a couple more Directors to go along with the need for a Referendum or a legal petition process.

Time will tell now how the final result will come out.

whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 13:14 - Edited by: whiteguy


Well, good news for a change--sort of. Thanks in large part to a forceful stand in favour of fair process and local autonomy by Area F director Lee Turnbull, the regional board last night voted to defer the decision to close the landfill and hold a referendum in Area A. A real referendum with paper ballots. Oh, hold it. They didn't vote to actually hold one, but to approve the idea to hold one in principle. It may or may not actually take place and one gets the feeling it definitely won't if staff gets its way. John France, the Chief Administrative Officer, appeared upset and tried to talk the board out of it by describing how costly it would be, how much staff time it would take, and how much other more important work would have to be delayed in order to do it. To hear him you would think the board had just voted to build a bridge across Howe Sound. Dion Whyte, the Sustainable Services manager chipped in with a warning that it might cost $80,000 just to prepare the application to see if it is possible to extend the landfill permit. This in my opinion is a pure crock and just one more example of a staff that is far too involved in trying to steer the elected representatives on policy matters, something that never would have tolerated in the old days of Frank West, Jim Tyner and Cliff Gilker but seems to be the norm now. The matter has been sent to staff for a report and I expect they will go all out to make the referendum so expensive and so onerous the board will feel a lot of pressure to back off. Another interesting twist is that Area A will have to pay for the cost of the referendum. This would be fair if it was regular board practice but I have never heard of it being done before in the case a joint function like waste management. The all for one, one for all principle only applies when its something the SCRD wants, it seems, like the big expensive campaign to convince us to close the landfill. No shortage of staff time and funds from general revenues for that.

The staff says it will take 5 1/2 months to get the referendum ready. If we are going to wait that long, maybe we should wait until the regional election next year, when it could be added to the ballot for free. We have 2-3 years filling time left before the curren permit atrea is full according to the contractor, so we have plenty of time to wait.

Another curious twist that developed in the board's position is that the referendum will make clear that if the landfill is extended, all cost will have to be borne by Area A. To my knowledge this is also unprecendented for a district-wide function that we already pay $171,000 of our tax money into. Are we going to have to continue to have to pay that $171,000 into the region-wide function even if we go it alone on the landfill? Wouldn't that be double taxation? If we could get our $171,000 back and add it to the $220,000 the landfill pulls in from tipping fees, we could cover operating costs nicley. Turning to capital costs, staff seems to envision no end of trouble borrowing $155,000 for the landfill extension, although raising twice that much for a transfer station with compactors would apparently be no trouble at all.

Looking at the waste function separately in this way could revolutionize our dealings with the SCRD. If Area A has to make up the shortfall in the waste management function, do we get to look at all the other functions where we pay more than our share? It seems only fair that if we are going to be charged on the side for one function where we have an alleged shortfall, we should get to look at all the other functions where we overpay and demand a refund. This could save us hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Adjusting
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 13:26


The meeting last night was an eye opening experience. Directors Turnbull, Nohr and Graham seemed to be the only ones with common sense. It seems to me that the referendum will not happen because there will be no consensus how to handle it. Also if there are two choices, a - expand the landfill, b- transfer station, how can it be that option a may not be an option because Ministry of Environment approval may not be granted, so there is only one option. And for Mr. France to say that it has been so costly so far, with staff time, etc etc that Area A will not get "other services" because there will be no money. Do they not realize that Area A really has little in the way of "other services"?? Very disappointed "posturing" by the other Directors gobbledygook.

Roadranger
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 14:30


Sure makes you wonder what planet the SCRD is from. They say it would cost 80 grand to see if the landfill can be expanded.

I'am pretty sure the landfill can be expanded for one it is pretty much hidden from public eye. The leachate problem is fixed.

For 80 grand that would pay for quite abit of the new road to be built into Sakinaw woods.

As I have said the material dug out of the hillside where the dump would be expanded would be enough to give the old part of the landfill the final covering. Hydroseed it with some kind of ground cover.

John Rees
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 15:14


My take on the meeting was somewhat different.
I believe we should all wait until we have the exact wordings of the two resolutions. [Board minutes should be available next week ]

We definately have the support for a referendum, the intent was there, with Director Inkster and Director Shuga on side this time, in addition to our previous support, providing Area A paid the Referendum/Legal petition costs.

I can tell you honestly, that would have been the way I would have voted as a Director for similar circumstances in other areas.

I believe our Rep, Eric, made an error in discussing the inclusion of costs for expansion on the Referendum, should have left that alone at this time.

It is too bad that we were not allowed to debate issues, for there was a golden opportunity to ask why we would have to go that cost alone, but would inevitably have to pay remedial costs at the Sechelt Landfill. Are we not part of the overall Function.?

Cool heads should prevail, take one issue at a time.

It will be interesting to see the costs prepared by staff and whether or not they will differ from the original study, at least the study will provide a guideline for us.

Also interesting for folks from here to see the performance of Director Janyk, now you know where all this has come from.

theresa
Member
# Posted: 26 Feb 2010 16:18


Thanks to you, John R. and Howie, for taking this on. Much appreciated.

carolerubin
Member
# Posted: 28 Feb 2010 23:06


I would like to see the presentation Howard gave at the Feb 25th. I uberstand he didn't hand in a copy to the Recording Secretary... ...any chance of getting a copy?

whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 12:28


In the end they did it to us anyway. After voting to investigate a referendum last meeting, and after receiving a new phone survey showing that only 14% of residents want to close the landfill and after getting a paper showing the case for saving money by trucking waste to Sechelt is built upon a dubious assumption, and after listening to our director plea for fair play and after 8 months of pretending to consult our community, last night the regional board voted to close the Pender landfill.

Our landfill has been taken away for good.

How did this happen after the board seemed to see thelight on Feb. 25 and vote to give the decision to us through a referendum?

The staff came back with a referendum so elaborate you'd think we were voting on the breakup of Canada. It was voted down by the entire board, including our director, Eric Graham.

The cost of the referendum was to be $35,164. The referendum itself was only $12,550 of this, but three months of staff time was added, even though they are already fully paid for by our taxes and the report admitted this was never done before. John Rees remembers the recreation referendum of the whole lowercoast only costing $20,000-odd. Typical of the unfair way the SCRD has treated Area A on this issue. Typical too, of the way the board unquestioningly swallows information handed it by staff. Our own director didn't utter a murmur of protest.

But this was only the beginning.

It was to be held on July 17 to accommodate "the large number of recreational voters in Area A." So much for the full time residents of Area A whowork in the fishing industry andother industries that keep them away during mid-July. They don't count in the new scheme of things, apparently.

There was also to be a further charge of more staff time to provide "referendum support." $3,000 for a new information package, though they already have more info on paper than they could use. $5,000 for distribution, even though it only takes $134 to mail to every address in Area A. Another $14,000 for the time of staff whose salaries are already fully paid in part by the $171,000 rips us for solid waste taxes.

There was to be another $150,000 spent on just preparing the application for the landfill extension. This was a new cost not mentioned in the report of the SCRD consultants, Sperling Hansen (SHA), who said the whole expansion could be done for $155,000.

As if these numbers weren't enough to scare the board and voters spitless enough, the staff report cautioned, all this money could be wasted if the MOE chose not to approve the Pender landfill expansion. Thisdespite the MOE telling them they had never turned down an expansion request before.

In the referendum, the people were to be asked to approve spending of $400,000, as a "worst case scenario." When was the last time you ever heard of any government asking for a 250% overrun in advance?

The operating costs of the new expanded landfill were to be $203,262. This despite the current cost of the landfilling operation is only $110,000 and could be expected to drop rapidly due to recycyling. But the SCRD staff doesn't have much confidence in its zero waste plans, it seems, at least when it doesn't suit them. The closure cost allowance would be increased from $40,000 a year to $65,137.

All of this would be billed back to Area A on taxes--9.10 per 100 k for the one-time referendum/post referendum costs and 12.34 for the annual operating costs. That would come to $50 for a $400,000 home, on top of the $32 we already pay to regional waste, for, ah, good things.

The real unfairness of the board's treatment of Area A is underlined by the fact that if we choose their pet project, the transfer station, they pay the whole shot. No petitions, no taxes no fuss no muss if we do it their way. They could do the landfill expansion the same way. Just say,oh, it turns out Area A people are more than 3-to-1 agains our plan, guess that means we have to do the expansion after all. Fine. Staff, please go ahead with expansion. That is what previous boards have done on three occasions and that is what Eric asked this board to do. Chair Donna Shugar explained why they wouldn't: "I don't think landfill expansion is the correct course, so my area shouldn't pay. If everybody gets to pay, everybody gets to vote."

So much for the principle of regional autonomy. I wonder if Ms. Shugar will be so enamoured of majority rule if the board decides it would be in the interests of the greater good to remove some of her area's tough restrictions on development, since we all pay for planning? Somehow I think that would bring forth a different tune.

It was mayor Janyk of Gibsons, fittingly, who made the final motion to kill our landfill, though not before explaining that when he said it was time for people in Area A to "evolve" he didn't mean it in the Darwinian sense, just that we should get educated. His silver tongue never fails.

Eric, our director, made only token resistance and already undermined our position by telegraphing that he really supported thetransfer station and thinking the community was split 50-50. It wasn't until far too late he fianlly realized the split was actaully 70-14 and he should support the majority. I tried to get him to ask for a 2-week moratorium before the final vote, but he had already given up.

So I'm afraid she's a done deal, chums. There's nothing to do but worry about what the Regional Board will decide to strip us of next, besides huge gobs of our tax dollars. (The regional waste tax--the mystery tax that can't be used on landfills--has increased 300% in 4 years.)

Incorporation? I still think it would be costly, but nothing could be more costly than what we're dealing with now.

chupacabra
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 14:39


After all you guys went through with the SCRD I thought that their move to reconsider and actually listen to the residents of Area A seemed suspicious, but what you have said is downright insulting.

I know that JR said that he had requested a phase 1 study for District Incorporation that was shelved at the time, but that it was up to the current director to ask for it to be revisited. What are the odds Eric is going to move it forward?

Jane Reid
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 15:14 - Edited by: Jane Reid


Pender Harbour Landfill
Telephone Survey



SUMMARY

An independent telephone survey of Pender Harbour and Egmont residents was conducted by Jane Reid between March 4 and March 9, 2010 to determine community opinion on the future of the Pender Harbour Landfill.

METHODOLOGY

The 2008/2009 Sunshine Coast BC Telus telephone directory was used as a source for contact numbers. The standardized introduction and questions were phrased as follows:

“Hello. I am conducting a telephone survey of Pender Harbour and Egmont residents. Would you be kind enough to answer one quick question?” If agreed, then, “Concerning the Pender Harbour Landfill, would you prefer to see it upgraded, and remain in operation as a landfill, would you prefer to see it closed, and converted to a transfer station, or are you undecided?”

According to a model from the consulting firm, Custom Insight, this survey has a 95% accuracy rate and 5% error margin. Custom Insight (www.custominsight.com) is an international firm with clients including the American Cancer Society, Ford, Nokia and DelMonte Foods.

RESULTS

Total calls: 844
Total calls answered: 310
Number of those contacted who declined to participate in the survey: 6

Respondents in favour of maintaining a landfill: 216 or 70%
Respondents in favour of converting to a transfer station: 40 or 13%
Respondents undecided: 54 or 17%

Note: SCRD statistics state there are 1237 dwellings in the Egmont/ Pender Harbour area, therefore 25% of total households participated in this survey.

CONCLUSION

The results of this survey show that the majority of residents of Pender Harbour and Egmont feel strongly that the Pender Harbour Landfill should continue being operated as a landfill, rather than being converted to a transfer station.

It is interesting to note that, although a much larger and thus more valid sample is used in this survey, the results are similar to that of the mail-in survey initiated by the Sunshine Coast Regional District last year.

For more information, contact Jane Reid at 604-883-9078.

Here's a copy of the survey for BBS readers info. I delivered this to Eric on Wednesday of this week, with the hope that the results would light his fire and really make the case to keep the landfill. Eric admitted to me that he was mistaken, and now believed that the overwhelming majority does want to keep the landfill, therefore will not support the closure. Problem was....Eric didn't really agree with the community....he personally believes the transfer station is the way to go..... thus....no fire...no spark...no fight.....just LIP SERVICE, and roll over, play dead! The other directors should be ashamed of themselves in my opinion. To say they would agree to pay, (if we would agree to a transfer station), but we would have to pay ourselves if we want the landfill is EXTORTION in my book! So much for REGIONAL gov't.
It's a sad day!!

Jane Reid
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 15:55


Oh, I almost forgot! Apparently the directors discredited my survey...not because it wasn't conducted by a bonded, reputable firm costing thousands of taxpayer dollars,( I could have accepted that!), but because they didn't like the question. They didn't think it proper to mention the "upgrade" to the landfill! Another example of a good excuse? LOL

Roadranger
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 16:13


Somebody lobby the Sechelt indian band to have the Sechelt landfill removed then see what happens.

Ohwell I guess people are just going to get used to having garbage piled up on the back roads or other places.

I hope Eric is happy with his decision because here we go with sky high prices. I sure hope he knows that any of the retired senior citizens that have garbage pick up with Zacharias is going to cost them more.

It might be time for one of the private contractors to set up a incinerator.

I was at the landfill today and it looks like we have about 6 months to a year left and it is full.

Myrwin
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 17:39


I am so angry about this that I hardly know where to begin.

What the board did to Pender Harbour last night was gang mentality masquerading as democracy. It was heavy-handed, dictatorial, unethical, dishonest and just plain wrong.

Our director let us down by not putting up a fight for our collective opinion, our rights, our tax dollars and our landfill. He allowed himself to be swayed by the SCRD staff, the other directors and a couple of local special-interest groups. He failed, we'll all pay for it.

And there's not a goddamned thing we can do about it.

And why are Whiteguy and JR looking like such supporters of incorporation? These guys are the reason it failed a decade ago, propagating fear that it would be sooooo expensive, the mayor would be corrupt and we'd all go to hell in a handbasket. This latest move by the SCRD is a perfect example of why we should have gone for it in 1999 and, if I was John or Howie, I'd be too embarrassed to even mention incorporation today.

That said, I offer my sincere thanks to both of them for their efforts in trying to save our landfill. I am truly sad that they were for nothing.

Steven Taylor
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 19:38


Sad. So very sad.
Thank you JR, WG and countless others for your time and efforts. Like I said this is a sad situation but not an unforeseen one. In the past we have staved off the wolf with either a strong representative or a weak council. Now we have a strong council and weak representation. Our bad luck.
If the status quo is to remain I can assure you we will see similar discourse come to the Harbour. It is time to remove Area A from the SCRD.
Wait that will be a long time acoming. Something needs to be done now. I think everyone should go to every SCRD meeting and keep asking questions, making statements, generally disrupting the meeting. This needs to be done week after week. If the SCRD will not allow Area A to conduct it's business then neither should the SCRD be allowed to conduct thier business.

Myrwin
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 19:55


If the status quo is to remain

Status quo = Pender Harbour, bend over and take it up the arse.

John Rees
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 20:11


Just picked up this thread, appalled at this abusive decision.
Where in the hell are you on this Eric,? maybe you could enlighten us with your failed strategy on this issue.

Personally I would ask that you resign immediately and give the community an opportunity to send someone to Sechelt with balls.

It is not over yet, there is another level of Government that can have an impact, namely Provincial.
Letters to the Ministry of Community Services, Minister of Dumps and copies to the Premier and god forbid our own MLA outlining the chronology, the public response opposed to this decision as outlined by Jane, and finally the level of democracy we have been dealt here.

This decision in my opinion [and experience ] has been engineered by Director Janyk, supported and propelled by senior staff, unbelievable to think that unelected people can have such an impact on a small community.

Thanks Jane and Howard for your efforts, good to see you back again Myrtle, even though you have it wrong.

Myrwin
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 20:39


Minister of Dumps? Minister of DUMPS????

whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 12 Mar 2010 22:16


That would be the Honourable Barry Penner, Minister of Environment, PO Box 9047 STN PROV GOVT Victoria BC V8W 9E2 Phone: 250 387-1187 Fax:
250 387-1356

Mrytle, spare us your moral instruction on past sins. I would still oppose incorporating just the Harbour area and leaving the greater part of Area A to the mercy of the SCRD. If I was ever going to support a municipality it would be a district municipality such as the one John proposed. But I would still have to be satisfied it wouldn't be a financial basket case that would leave us more beholden to the SCRD than we are now.

Jane Reid
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 09:44


I think it may be worth a shot at starting with the Ombudsman's office, Monday morning. If you think about it....every ex-Regional director from Area A appears to share the opinion that due process was not conducted regarding this ordeal. Ombudsman does have jurisdiction over municipal and regional gov't! What does everyone think? Phone 1-800-567-3247.

John Rees
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 09:49


I certainly think that is a good place to start Jane...jr

John France
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 15:29


I can appreciate that people that post here are not happy about the Board's decision. I repeat what I said in my first post:

"I have been monitoring this site and this string, for obvious reasons...yes, we do care at the SCRD! For those that don't know me I am the CAO with the SCRD. I do this because I am genuinely interested in all issues faced by our residents and I am especially interested in the processes used to resolve those issues."

The posts describing the meeting are regrettable as they do not truly describe what happened at the meeting nor factually interpret the Staff report. They do however continue to promote misinformation and negativity. If it would help I could provide a more even handed description of the report...?

Not one person in this blog knows the value of the services Area A recieves from the SCRD, you are only guessing. I can say this because I know the calculation has not been done in many years and it is vastly complex - I did it last in 2000 and at that time Area A was getting its fair share of services for taxes paid. Despite the recent changes in Area A's assessed values, I continue to believe Area A is still getting it's fair share - you don't have to look far to see this equity in action, look at the investment in Arae A parks alone!.

What I would like to suggest is, instead of participating in this negativity....get involved in your local government. Use this energy to create the next version of the Landfill. The Board has approved a transfer station and a resource recovery park...the park will be the first in the SCRD system and provides a real opportunity to create something special. You may have lost a landfill, but you didn't loose services, you gained services....and you also gained a better environmental process to handle your waste and at a lower cost.

Where the waste system has been improved, services increased, negative environmental effects lessened and costs decreased....isn't this a win for everyone?

One final comment...I started posting because I do care...however, if this isn't helpful at all...I can stop. I do have a series of posts ready to go on other topics raised however i will await comment.

PS JR, really regret your post, this is not the JR I knew at the SCRD. I appreciate you do not agree with what happened...but you know what a Director goes through in processes like these, Director Graham worked hard for Area A on this issue. Bottom line....anyone who runs and is elected for public office deserves respect and you know why.

Myrwin
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 17:00 - Edited by: Myrwin


Mr. France, your points in favour of a transfer station (improvement of waste system, increase of services, lessened enviromental effects and cost decreases) are at best debatable if not entirely questionable.

The fact remains that you're trucking garbage to Sechelt to bury it instead of burying it in Pender Harbour, and I can't see how this is an advantage environmentally or economically, or how it improves waste management service to the residents of Area A.

The fact remains that the majority of the residents of Area A were ignored when the board voted to convert our landfill to a transfer station.

Because you object to criticism of Mr. Graham's handling of the issue at the board, I must assume that he did his best to convince the board that a strong majority of residents wanted to keep the landfill. If so, it makes the board's over-ruling decision all the more oppressive and tyrannical.

John France
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 18:05


The professional consultants spoke to the cost and environment issues and this was backed up by SCRD staff who are qualified in waste management issues/practices. While I have stated that these findings have been misinterpreted and made unclear by some individuals...the sound underlying principles on which this decision was made, remain available for everyone to see.

If you can't see how how this decision is both environmentally and economically sound...I invite you to read the reports (if you haven't already done so) and speak to my staff on any concerns or questions you may have. As to the question on services...the landfilling services you currently have are unchanged, the Board has taken the first step to implementing a resource recovery park...this is clearly an increase in services, clearly Area A will see an increase in waste services.

PH Landfill has been paid for by all residents of the coast, it belongs to all residentts. I appreciate this is not popular in PH, but the Board has the democratic right to make this decision. Dwelling on surveys that do not meet the standards on which a decision could be legitmately made (on the results) - is unproducitve.

All Directors are subjected to crticism and this is the political arena - at times it is not nice, but it is part of the job (and they should be respected for it!). What I object to is not the criticism, but rather the resorting to name calling and simply bad manners. It is not useful and it adds little to the purpose of the discussion.

Myrwin
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 18:35 - Edited by: Myrwin


The board may have the right to as they did, but I won't call it democratic because it ignores the wishes of our community, of an entire area of the SCRD.

The telephone survey was valid, as was the initial questionnaire mailed out by the SCRD, and the results were similar. I can't help but wonder if these results would have been so readily dismissed had they supported a transfer station.

John France
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 22:13


I apologize for the past post...I thought since the issue of the validity of polls/surveys/questionaires was raised...maybe a few comments on what makes a poll valid would help. First, the questions were not neutral, they lead the respondents. Second, the persons leading the surveys were not neutral or disassociated from the outcome. And third, the sampling was not random. All three taken together means the surveys, under any reasonable persons review, would not meet the standards set for a reliable or valid poll - where the results could be used to predict a response in a useful way.

11) Best Practices for Survey and Public Opinion Research (77%) - 07/31/2009
"The quality of a survey is best judged not by its size, scope, or prominence, but by how much attention is given to [preventing, measuring, and] dealing with the many important problems that can arise."...

Defining reliability and validity
Reliability, strictly speaking, refers to any measurement that produces the same results under the same conditions each time a measurement is made. Thus, a thermometer that reports the same “normal” temperature each time you use it under “normal” conditions is reliable. But it may not be valid; that is, it may actually be off several degrees. A rifle that misses the target in exactly the same place when aimed at the bull’s-eye is very reliable. It is just not very valid.
Validity refers to any measurement that produces that faithfully reports the “true” condition of the subject measured. To be valid, your thermometer must produce a reading that is accurate. One way of assuring this is to compare it with other thermometers of known reliability. Note, however, that a measure can be reasonably valid but also only fairly reliable. Here, you might imagine a gun that never hits the bull’s-eye but is always close, thought its shots are scattered around the center of the target.
Practically speaking, this breaks down into two issues: sampling validity and questionnaire validity.
Sampling validity: How can only 1,000 people give a faithful picture of millions?
Painting a picture of millions from only a few hundred interviews is possible because of random sampling. In a random sample, each element of a population is given an equal chance of inclusion; hence, the resulting sample is representation of the population as a whole with in the sampling error for the size of the sample (in polls, this is usually 5% or less). One way of producing a random sample is to mix up all elements of a population, then draw them lottery style (either manually or by computer).
Some evidence is circumstantial. Who sponsored the poll? What organization conducted the poll for the sponsor? Does the sponsor have an ax to grind and is this visible in question wording? Is the polling organization recognized as reliable? Does the polling organization belong to and abide by the standards of the American Association of Public Opinion Research. Was the sponsor reported in the sample Middle Tennessee Poll story? On the MTPoll website?
Asking the right Question? It happened in September when three major media polls measured the public’s opinion about the economic bailout. The Pew Research poll found that the public supported the bailout by a 27-point margin; the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, by contrast, found that the public opposed the bailout by a 24-point margin; and the Washington Post-ABC poll concluded that the public was essentially evenly divided.
Now, how could three polls, all conducted in exactly the same time frame, come up with completely different results? One reason is that most people probably didn’t have a strong opinion about the bailout. After all, it is a very complicated matter, and we didn’t even know much about the bill at the time. But the media polls wanted to present the appearance of a public that had made a decision, so they essentially manufactured this opinion.

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll did it by asking a question that stressed the problems and costs, and so we got an opinion that was against the bailout. Pew Research talked about investing in the economy—a very positive way of phrasing the issue—and in that phraseology their respondents showed a strong margin of support. And then the Washington Post-ABC poll was more neutral, but it still didn’t give people the option of saying that they didn’t know, and so they found that the public was evenly divided. In all three cases, the failure to measure the percentage of people who really didn’t have an opinion one way or the other essentially led to the manufacturing of three entirely different opinions. It wasn’t real opinion, in the sense that it didn’t reflect what the general public at large was thinking.

I appreciate the effort put into the polls by Pender Harbourites, it took a lot of time to obtain the info. For this type of tool to be useful, it has to meet certain standards. Hope this helps...again sorry for the long post.

whiteguy
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 22:58 - Edited by: whiteguy


I would be happy to see you take part in a dialogue on this issue, Mr. France, but there can be no dialogue if you just keep re-stating set SCRD positions as if none of the questions we have raised about them are worthy of discussion and your version of truth is the only one that counts. You might have noticed that people around here are not buying that. The SCRD said it wanted to consult our community but every time we actually tried to tell the SCRD what we felt via your survey, then our 830-name petition, then Jane and Myrtle's survey you refused to hear the message. Maybe one of these things could have been wrong, but together they are beyond dispute, so why keep quibbling about "standards?" If the SCRD really had a problem with standards, it had every opportunity to have a survey done that met its standards--we even offered to pay for it. But it did everything possible to avoid having a formal survey whose result it would have to accept, and I can only think that was because it knew very well we would vote overwhelmingly to keep our landfill operating. That is not what I would call dealing in good faith, and I find it a more than a little brazen for you to now be inviting us to kiss and make up and join hands around the transfer station as nothing happened.

John France
Member
# Posted: 13 Mar 2010 23:36


What I gave you above were standards from the American Association for Public Opinion Research...it was not SCRD standards. In looking at these standards and applying them to what was done...none of polls were appropriately done. Why would ten surveys not done properly count any more than one not done properly?

Maybe you are right, you have written your history...we see it differently...and that is where it stands.

Regardless, there is work to do...how best do we move forward to meet the needs of the community?

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