Support for HRM’s regional council and mayor appears to be waning from 2008 levels.

Respondents in the CityThink survey done for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership were asked on a scale of one to 10 how satisfied they were, overall, with regional council and in Mayor Peter Kelly.

On average, support for council came in at five. Mayor Kelly had slightly higher numbers, with an average of six.

While the numbers may seem middling, Craig Wight, senior vice-president at Bristol Omnifacts, which conducted the survey, said they are actually pretty poor.

“If I liken it back to a report card, and you’re coming home with your report card and you got a 50, mom and dad aren’t too pleased,” said Wight.

In his research, Wight used seven and above as the benchmark for a positive response. For council, only 28 per cent of respondents fell in that category. For Kelly, 45 per cent responded with a seven or above.

Both approval ratings are down from the same survey two years ago, when Kelly came in at 57 per cent and council at 39 per cent.

Kelly said some of the dissatisfaction may stem from council’s tendency to get bogged down in relatively minor debate.

“Things, at times, get bogged down where we go where we shouldn’t go in terms of the in-depth points of discussion,” Kelly said. “There are things that come (before council) that don’t follow under our responsibility, and that adds to the frustration of council.”

Kelly said one possible way around the issue would be to increase the power of community councils. HRM’s six community councils meet separately from regional council, discussing issues specific to the area.

“There is a need to give community councils more autonomy, more responsibility, to lessen up some of (the) time frames here at council in dealing with minor issues,” said Kelly. “That is ... long overdue.”
The CityThink survey has a margin of error of 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Little white lie
A full 81 per cent of respondents in the CityThink poll claimed to have voted in the last municipal election in 2008. That’s 44 per cent more than the actual turnout.

Craig Wight, senior vice-president at Bristol Omnifacts Research, said questions of that nature often see a disconnect from the actual situation.

“People know they should (vote), but they don’t,” said Wight. “There’s lots of examples of that … If the doctor asks how much you drink, the doctor probably knows they need to double whatever you say.”