According to a survey conducted by the Coalition to Preserve Community Identity in HRM, 65 percent of respondents feel that HRM’s 2014 rebranding was, and is, too expensive. Another 23 percent said they didn’t know enough about the costs to answer.
The online survey was conducted over two months last fall by the Coalition—a group that’s composed of administrators from six different Facebook groups opposed to the municipality's bold new branding. They say they have a combined membership of about 5,000 people.
Fewer than that participated in the group’s survey, which collected only 457 responses from people in Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage and Eastern Shore communities.
That may not seem like a large amount, but spokesperson Warren Wesson says the goal was only to get more participants than the survey conducted by Revolve back in the winter of 2014, before this whole mess started.
The Define Halifax Region online survey only resulted in 426 responses. So, technically, in terms of online survey responses, the Coalition does kind of win. But that’s if you don’t count the two telephone surveys conducted by CRA which had 711 respondents, or the 2,400 people who showed up at the public engagement sessions.
All told, roughly 4,600 participants gave feedback to Revolve and HRM through surveys and engagement sessions two years ago. Another 16,000 individuals viewed materials and information related to the project on the web and social media.
But Wesson believes Dartmouth didn’t get a fair shake in that consultation, and he isn’t impressed with its results.
“I’m not really convinced that Revolve study is on the up-and-up,” he says. “And I’m not actually sure the citizens are being told straight up what the true purpose of the branding was.”
The initial rebranding effort two years ago cost the HRM roughly $300,000. Only a small amount of that money went into creating the new logo, with the rest being spent on background research and public consultation.
Last summer, rallying cries against the changes began to increase with the removal of Dartmouth flags and the appearance of “Halifax” on Dartmouth signs.
Councillor Gloria McCluskey presented a petition from those concerned about the name changes. Councillor Waye Mason wrote a lengthy blog post trying to address some of those concerns. They had it out on the radio. Time moved on.
Numbers aside, the location of respondents in the Coalition's survey may also be biasing results. Wesson says his group had hoped to “bust out” of the eastern communities who’ve been more outspoken against the rebranding and get a more accurate, municipality-wide sample. Should that happen in the future, he’s not afraid of the results.
“If more people want this than don’t on an HRM level, then so be it. Let the cards fall where they may. But I’m not convinced that’s the way it is.”
Wesson says he “enjoys” Halifax and isn’t looking to provoke any animosity. He just wants to ensure the name “Dartmouth” doesn’t disappear for his grandchildren.
“I want them to know they grew up in Dartmouth,” he says. “Halifax is a great place, but I think Dartmouth is a great place too.”
The Coalition to Preserve Community Identity in HRM says it will release other information gleaned from its survey later this week.