British Columbia Municipal Election Preview

Final Results – October 21, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll fielded October 17 to October 20, 2008 with a representative sample of 525 adult British Columbians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population of British Columbia been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual British Columbia population according to 2006 Census data.

The polling was conducted using Ipsos Reid’s “Voice of the West Interactive Forum” – an online panel of more than 5,000 British Columbians who have been randomly recruited to match the overall characteristics of the adult residents of the province.


Personal Importance of Elections
Q1. It's election season. As you know, we just completed a federal election on October 14th. As you may also know, municipal elections are taking place across British Columbia on November 15th and a provincial election is scheduled for May 12th, 2009.

How important is the outcome of each of these elections to you personally?

Comments: Municipal elections rank well behind provincial and federal elections in terms of importance to British Columbians. Fewer than four-in-ten (37%) British Columbians say that the outcome of the upcoming municipal election is “very important” to them personally. This compares to two-thirds (65%) who rate the upcoming provincial election as “very important” and nearly six-in-ten (57%) who rate the recent federal election as “very important”.

As is typical of most elections, younger British Columbians are less likely to rate the municipal election as “very important” (24% among 18 to 34 years vs. 43% among 35% years).

Most Important Municipal Election Issues

Q2. What are the one or two most important local issues that will determine your vote in the municipal election?

Comments: British Columbians are concerned about a wide variety of municipal issues, with no single issue dominating the public agenda heading into the municipal elections. The top three issues province-wide are “poverty/ homelessness/ affordable housing” (37%), “crime/ policing” (33%) and “transit /transportation/ roads” (29%).

Two issues stand out as being more important to Lower Mainland voters than to voters in the rest of the province. These two issues are “crime/ policing” (13 points higher in Lower Mainland) and “transit/ transportation/ roads” (10 points higher in Lower Mainland).

The issue of “poverty/ homelessness/ affordable housing” is more important among British Columbians who say the municipal election is “very important” to them personally (42% vs. 32% among all others). This is an important measure, as these are the British Columbians who are most likely to actually show up and vote on Election Day.

Appetite for Change

Q3. Generally speaking, do you believe your local Mayor (or equivalent leader) deserves to be re-elected or do you believe it's time for a change?

Q4. Generally speaking, do you believe your local City Council (or equivalent group) deserves to be re-elected or do you believe it's time for a change?

Comments: British Columbians are leaning towards change in the upcoming municipal election. Only about three-in-ten residents say that their local mayor (33%, not 10% as incorrectly reported in Oct 22nd Vancouver Sun) or council (28%) deserves to be re-elected. Half (50%) say it’s time for a change of mayor and a slight majority (56%) say it’s time for change in council.

An appetite for change is more pronounced among those most likely to vote, i.e. those who consider the municipal election outcome to be “very important” to them personally. Two-thirds of these voters say it’s time for a change in mayor (65%) and council (66%).

Views on Property Tax vs. Services
Q5. Municipal property taxes are the primary way to pay for services provided by your municipality. Due to the increased cost of maintaining current service levels and infrastructure, your municipality must balance taxation and service delivery levels. To deal with this situation, which one of the following four options would you most like your municipality to pursue?

Comments: British Columbians are not crying out for lower municipal taxes. A majority (56%) say they would like to see their municipality either “increase taxes to enhance or expand services” (29%) or “increase taxes to maintain services at current levels” (27%). Support for increased taxes is even stronger among those most likely to vote on Election Day (60% support).

This result for British Columbia is very similar to Ipsos Reid’s municipal norm for Canadian municipalities. In dozens of municipal surveys conducted over the past five years, the Canadian average is 55% supporting increased taxes to either expand or maintain services.

For more Information on this news release, please contact:
Kyle Braid
Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
(778) 373-5130

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British Columbia Municipal Election Preview

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Kyle Braid
Senior Vice President / Vice-Président Senior, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 778 373 5130