So, the City of White Rock is conducting yet another online public survey seeking feedback on the dogs on the promenade (DoP) pilot project.
A bit of research will show you that experts agree that online public survey results are highly influenced by the interest and motivation of participants and the survey structure. These are only two reasons why online surveys are notoriously biased and inaccurate unless they are outsourced to qualified experts. Precision and accuracy is sacrificed for the sake of quick, easy, and inexpensive data.
Because the DoP survey does not represent a rigorously controlled, random sample of the White Rock population, results will inevitably be suspect and potentially misleading.
The key questions of the city’s survey focus on people’s feelings and experience of walking their dog, being around dogs, enjoying dogs, and interacting with others who like dogs. These one-sided, leading questions focus on the positive side of DoP. What is critically missing from the survey are questions that give some thought to the implications and consequences of DoP — for example:
Are you aware that the promenade is next to a sensitive, valuable, and protected Wildlife Management Area?
Should dogs to be allowed to defecate and urinate in family picnic areas along the promenade?
Do you realize that dog excrement can harbour serious disease vectors that are hazardous to human health?
How many off-leash dogs are you willing to encounter when you walk the promenade?
Results of this online public survey will no doubt be curious and interesting. The results, however, should not be used as a basis for deciding on the rather serious matter of whether to continue to allow dogs permanently on the promenade in the future.
Ron Kistritz, White Rock