[SURVEY OF THE MONTH] Our City, Our Voices – Comprehensive Planning for today and the future with the City of Nanaimo

SOTM Reimagine Nanaimo

The Survey of the Month series is a monthly blog where we highlight the extraordinary work our customers are doing, along with some takeaways that are relevant for anyone interested in making the most out of online engagement using MetroQuest’s survey platform! To see more in the series, visit the blogs here.

This month, we want to highlight a comprehensive plan in an earlier stage of planning for Nanaimo, a harbour city on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. LANARC Consultants are helping the City and its Mayor with an initiative to engage the community to receive great ideas and collectively create a vision and road map for their city’s future!

What’s the story? A path to the future, together!

The City of Nanaimo currently has a population of 100,000. By 2045, they estimate 140,000 people will live, recreate and work there. Nanaimo’s Mayor and Council introduced REIMAGINE NANAIMO, an initiative to collectively imagine how the spaces and places of the city can evolve to better meet the needs of the natural environment and the people.

REIMAGINE NANAIMO is part of a multi-phase comprehensive plan. The initial phase gathered ideas by sharing information and listening to resident’s views about the city’s future. Now, the city is developing options for achieving its shared vision and is evaluating ways to support the goals.

The Survey had incredible outreach campaigns working with influencers on various social media platforms to reach diverse demographics. They engaged 1539 participants with 20906 data points. Because of the Survey’s fun and informative components, which we will talk about below, REIMAGINE NANAIMO achieved an impressive participation rate of 64% meaning at least 1 out of 2 visitors shared their input; a typical Survey obtains around 20 to 30% participation rate. They could not be happier with the results!

To learn more about the project, please visit the project website here.

Anatomy of a Comprehensive Plan Survey: Priorities, Scenario Exploration, and Scenario Building

When visitors open the Survey, they are welcomed by the beautiful scenery of a hiker overlooking the city, a short introduction of their project and information on the significance of their input on the Welcome Screen.


Anatomy of a Comprehensive Plan Survey: Priorities, Scenario Exploration, and Scenario Building


On the following Priority Ranking Screen, participants are asked to rank their top 5 priorities out of a list of 10 related to transportation, economy, housing and natural environment. The selected top 5 priorities are shown on the following Screen, the Scenario Rating Screen, where participants are asked to explore 3 different scenarios: Current Path, Mobility Hubs and Central Focus.



By showing the priorities with as metrics, participants can discern which scenario performs best given their priorities and make informed decisions! The participants can familiarize themselves with the project by viewing the detailed plan overviews in PDF and short videos.



On the next Screen, the Map Marker Screen, the participants are asked to provide input on the types of destinations that they feel are missing in Nanaimo by dropping makers on a Google map. The marker types to choose from were “Tall Buildings”, “Infill Neighbourhoods”, “Shops & Services”, “Community Amenities”, “Support Services”, “Active Trans & Transit” and “Other”. Each marker has dropdown options and a comment box for the participants to provide more in-depth input.

Finally, the Wrap Up Screen asks a few demographic questions, thanks the participant and allows them to enter in a prize draw for a local eatery.

We encourage you to try the Survey by clicking here. This is a demo version that will not affect the survey results.

5 Tips from the ‘Our City, Our Choice: Scenarios Exploration’ Survey: Simple call-to-action with informative videos and additional resources

Nanaimo is a beautiful place and the decision makers care about community engagement and the public’s role in shaping the city’s future. They put together an engaging MetroQuest Survey with many takeaways. Below are just 5 tips from their survey that you can use on your next project:

      1. On the Welcome Screen, the visitors are greeted with an extended background image of the breathtaking scenery of Nanaimo. The positive impression created by the captivating visuals encourages the visitors to continue their survey participation . The positive survey experience results in a higher survey completion rate!
      2. Location-specific survey participation incentive. You may have considered providing incentives for the public to complete the survey in the form of a reward draw for anyone who enters their contact information. LANARC Consultants and the city offer a reward “one of ten $50 gift cards to a Nanaimo eatery of your choice”. It’s recommended to consider using a reward that only community members can use, such as to a local retailer, to avoid ballot box stuffing!
      3. Short educational videos and other resources were presented in the Scenario Rating Screen. You can accommodate different learning styles by providing a variety of resources such as videos, PDFs and images. A study found that the human brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. By including visually appealing resources into your survey, participants can process the information and data better and more quickly!
      4. Connected indicators to help participants make informed decisions. Explaining scenarios can be a complex undertaking, making the Scenario Rating Screen one of the more time-consuming Screens. After identifying prioirites in the first screen, connecting the indicators in the scenario exploration screen helps participants understand how various indicators perform on the different scenarios, emphasizing which scenario would likely work better in terms of their selected priorities.


    1. Lastly, each marker has easy-to-answer dropdown options on the Map Marker Screen. Participants simply need to click on an option from the list of answers. This reduces the length of the survey and makes it concise, which in turn means more data will be provided. Another advantage of dropdown questions is that they are designed to create easily quantifiable data.

Congratulations to LANARC Consultants and the City of Nanaimo for an engaging survey using new features and demonstrating best practice for effective online engagement!

For more great tips on how to make the most out of MetroQuest, contact your Customer Experience manager or reach out for more information!

Want to learn more about how MetroQuest supports community outreach on your next transportation plan? Check out our recent webinar:

The Pivotal Role of Public Involvement in the Surface Transportation Bill

In this webinar, equity and transportation planning experts from Kansas DOT and HDR discuss post-padnemic recovery, the surface transportation bill, and how agencies can prepare a winning strategy!



Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.