The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has officially launched a new online, interactive community monitoring portal aimed at supporting data-driven decision-making and transparency on municipal goals.
Unveiled last Tuesday, Jan. 10, the Community Monitoring Dashboard will be used to track the RMOW’s progress on the objectives laid out in its Official Community Plan and annual corporate plan.
“This is a self-serve, transparent means of demonstrating our progress on our goals,” said Mayor Jack Crompton, in a release. “It is a great tool to help community members familiarize themselves with the community’s demographics and economic underpinnings, and I’m excited to see how it will be applied, both internally and by our residents and businesses.”
The data is drawn from a variety of sources, including the municipality’s own monitoring; its internal operational data; results from the annual Community Life Survey; Tourism Whistler visitation tracking; census data from Statistics Canada; and information from local utility providers.
“All of these different sources are coming together to produce this dashboard that’s quite holistic in the information that we’re sharing,” said RMOW economic development analyst Richard Kemble at last week’s presentation.
The portal curates the information into three categories: community performance indicators are tracked under Community Monitoring; corporate plan performance under the Corporate Indicators section; while the Whistler Facts and Figures section provides an overview of the resort’s demographics and core municipal metrics, including housing, economic performance, climate action and land use.
For the first time, the community monitoring data can be easily exported in a number of formats for anyone to use.
“You can do CSV, Google Sheets, whatever you need, and then that information is there for you to use as you carry on with your projects,” Kemble added.
In a follow-up interview, Crompton said he was “overjoyed” to see the export tool made available this year.
“I was elected to council in 2011, and one of the first meetings I had was with then-general manager Bob MacPherson about the need to have open data,” he said. “This is a great thing for communities, and to see that level of sharing of information with the community, I think, is terrific. I hope to see more of it and more ways we can share data with this community. I think that’s a big advancement.”
The data-sharing portal arrives at a time when residents’ trust in municipal decision-makers is at an all-time low. According to the results of the RMOW’s 2022 Community Life Survey, released last week, only 40 per cent of responding residents believe the municipality has the community in mind when making decisions, the lowest percentage since the survey began in 2006.
Residents’ belief in their ability to influence municipal policy also declined in 2022. Only half of respondents last year were satisfied with existing opportunities to provide input into the RMOW’s decision-making, down six points from 2021 and the third lowest percentage since the survey was launched. (Surveys were not conducted in 2011 and 2016.)
“We’ve got work to do here to ensure that people feel like they have access to us as decision-makers. I’ll continue to put my phone number out there everywhere and talk to anybody who wants to talk to me,” said Crompton, noting how trust in all levels of government has largely declined across the board in recent years.
“There’s high distrust for government generally—and we’re part of that. I don’t want to diminish that concern, because I think we’re best when we take those indicators seriously and try and respond,” he said. “I want to be a better mayor, I want to be a better local government. There’s work for us to do, but certainly there has been some very real damage to people’s perception of government writ large.”
Locals’ lack of trust in decision-makers hasn’t bled into their opinions on the municipal services the RMOW provides. The Community Life Survey results showed a vast majority of residents—78 per cent—were satisfied with the municipal services provided last year, while 82 per cent said they received good value for their property tax dollars.
Access the Community Monitoring Dashboard at whistler.ca/getdata. Full results from the 2022 Community Life Survey can be found at whistler.ca/surveys.