Friday, January 25, 2008


On Monday night Burlington City Council will consider spending up to $40,000 to get public input regarding the proposed Performing Arts Centre. You can find that report CC-241-07 on the City’s website.

Your blogger believes in public input. You can never have too much of it.

In this particular instance there hasn’t been an actual poll done on a Performing Arts Centre (PAC) in quite some time. Not since November 2004 actually.

Previous Poll

In that poll only 78% of Burlington respondents thought building a PAC was a "good" or "excellent" idea. When given detailed financial implications the support increased, but only slightly, to 83%. One of eleven respondents was strongly opposed to this idea and, it must be noted, with a margin of error in the survey of 4.9% this opposing figure could be as high as one in seven against. Artsy types will try to convince you that the margin of error could also indicate that only one in twenty is opposed. Well, that can certainly be clarified with another poll. Let’s get on with it, I say.

Next Steps

Doing a survey will add an additional cost of $400,000 in construction related cost escalation to the project (about $120,000 per month); but, as I said, you can never have too much public input.

It wouldn’t hurt to test public opinion on a few more important public issues at the same time. That would be a good use of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.

Here are a few questions that could be asked.

Should Saskatchewan be required to have daylight-saving time like the rest of Canada?

Did the Leafs do the right thing in replacing General Manager John Ferguson Jr. earlier this week?

Would you be in favour of renting out the Council Chambers on Monday nights so that comedians could perform and raise money to pay for the additional costs to the Performing Arts Centre that will result from this survey?

I admit that I’m not a pollster. These questions could undoubtedly be better worded -but you can never have too much public input.

Wouldn’t you agree?