'Seated Couple' by Rick Haugen is one of the sculptures that will be on display in Nelson this summer.

Polls and public policy in Nelson

From dogs in the downtown to cross-border shopping, at times the final results are predictable and other weeks it takes us by surprise.

One of the most exciting aspects of the online world which we now live is the immediacy. Through social media and online commenting, there is more opportunity than ever for dialogue and debate.

When it comes to the media, this new era of feedback is something we use to help bring readers into the conversation and gage interest on particular stories.

On our website — nelsonstar.com — you will find a weekly poll question. Each week we will choose a pressing issue or general item of interest and present it to our readers. Generally it’s a simple yes or no answer. Results stream in and after seven days we release the final outcome in our Wednesday print edition.

We have been pretty clear that our online poll question is far from scientific. We will leave proper polling to the experts. Our questions are simply one more way to engage readers and provide a little sport in the process.

From dogs in the downtown to cross-border shopping, at times the final results are predictable and other weeks it takes us by surprise.

Last week we asked about the City of Nelson’s plan to spend $18,000 on sculptures in our downtown. The response level was above average and the outcome came as a surprise. The final count showed 75 per cent of respondents thought it was a bad idea.

We happen to think the City’s investment is a fine idea. Our downtown has been lacking a spark in the last few years and if the Castlegar SculptureWalk is any indication, a program like this can pay dividends. Taking measures to beautify and enhance our downtown should be encouraged and those efforts usually come with a pricetag.

So what to do about the poll results?

It’s one part of the mix and though not scientific, shouldn’t be ignored. Our guess is people are more concerned about the dollars than the idea of adding interesting art to our core. That’s understandable. But online polls should not form the basis for public policy. Our community leaders should consider it, but the best gage for this issue will come after the summer is over. We’ll be sure to revisit this issue in another poll come October.


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