City conducts recreation marketing survey

Parks, Recreation and culture department general manager Mark Taylor denies any connection to YMCA project.

A $22,000 telephone survey recently conducted for the City of Abbotsford has nothing to do with the YMCA bid currently before council, according to Mark Taylor.

The city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture said 300 local residents were polled to acquire feedback on marketing and communication.

The survey was coordinated by Sentis Market Research, a Vancouver-based company.

“Sentis Research is our contractor and they hired Illuminata Marketing to do the survey,” explained Taylor.

He said the city is trying to find out if the parks and rec department’s marketing efforts are reaching the public.

“It’s based on getting a sense on how to communicate with them (the public) and increase our revenues through marketing.”

However, some residents feel the timing of the survey is suspect, considering the city recently gave approval in principle to a plan to pay $17.5 million towards a new YMCA facility on the old hospital grounds on McCallum Road.

Elizabeth Gray was one of the 300 people contacted for the survey and she feels the city has “been down this road before.”

She said telephone surveys were conducted by the city before last year’s water referendum – to decide whether the city should enter into a $300-million public-private partnership for a new water supply and treatment centre at Stave Lake. Similar polling preceded the Plan A projects decision (which included the construction of the Reach, the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre and improvements to the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.)

“We don’t have the money to do this,” she said, adding she believes the survey is linked to the YMCA proposal.

The survey was completed in two days and took about 15 minutes per respondent. They were asked 17 recreation-based questions and seven demographic profile questions (age, sex, income etc.).

Taylor said the cost of the survey was included in the 2012 parks and recreation budget.

He said more than $6 million in revenue is generated annually through recreation services, and maintained it’s “really important” that the city know if its marketing campaign is effective.

Survey results and analysis are expected in the first two weeks of January.

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