Cooperation among St. Thomas and neighbouring councils top election issue – Chamber of Commerce survey

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has completed a pre-election survey of area businesses to list and rank priorities as seen by local employers and employees.

Of 26 topics and issues measured, harmony and co-operation among all local governments is the top issue. On an importance scale of 1 to 10, survey participants ranked harmony and co-operation with an average score of 8.93.

Rounding out The Top 10 issues:

2. Value for taxes 8.86
3. Having a visible “Vision” statement prioritizing short-term & long-term projects 8.36
4. Increasing local focus or resources on economic development 8.33
5. Downtown or commercial area(s) quality and development 8.06
6. Local buying/sourcing of products & services 8.00
7. Roads, water services, sewers and sidewalks 7.96
8. Waste management, collection & recycling 7.77
9. “Customer Service” by municipal staff 7.77
10. Municipal debt load 7.71

While all issues measured had obvious value and meaning to a variety of taxpayers, two issues were clearly the ones the business community sees as having little importance: changing St. Thomas to elect councillors on a ward system (3.90), and the need for a full-time Mayor in St. Thomas (4.79). The often controversial topic of having a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at City Hall divided the participants and produced an average importance level of 6.48 but 22% of participants said the issue was not important and ranked it as low as possible.

Total participation in the voluntary study, conducted via the Chamber’s website August 30 to September 30, was lower than expected with input from just 73 businesses and organizations received. Only responses from the business community were used in calculation of the final results. Several responses that failed to identify a business connection were deleted to maintain the Chamber’s wish to solely express the concerns of employers and employees. Participation across various types of businesses and organizations was well-balanced: 32% from manufacturing and services; 37% from the retail and financial sectors; and 31% from community services and government agencies.

75% of respondents were St. Thomas voters, 6% from Southwold and 19% from Central Elgin.

The Chamber is informing all area candidates and municipal offices of the findings and has posted the full survey findings on the Chamber’s website

Wednesday October 13, at St. Anne’s Centre in St. Thomas, the Chamber will host a “Meet The Candidates” Reception. All City of St. Thomas municipal candidates have been invited to attend and participate. Questions will be presented by a panel of three representatives from local media. The event is open to the public and free of charge to attend. Doors open at 5:00 p.m., candidate introductions and questions start at 6:00 p.m.

For additional information contact:

Bob Hammersley,
President & CEO
St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce
519-631-1981 Extension 24

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