The results from this year’s Citizen Satisfaction Survey were released Wednesday at Calgary City Hall, and the numbers are mostly good.
Overall, 86 per cent rate quality of life as good, 83 per cent say Calgary is a great place to make a life, and 84 per cent agree we are on track to becoming a better city. 89 per cent are proud to be Calgarians, and 86 per cent are proud to live in their specific neighbourhood.
But it’s not all top marks, as the largest decreases in satisfaction were in the areas of roads and snow removal — which saw nine and eight point drops, respectively. Along with that, there was a 12 point increase in those calling for more investment in snow removal, and a nine point increase in those calling for more investment in road maintenance.
“This is very, very expected,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Given the winter that we had, and council has already invested money in increased snow removal — particularly for pedestrians on sidewalks and pathways. The funny thing of course, about snow removal is that you can read that both ways. For every person who calls me after a snow storm and says snow removal is terrible, there is another person who calls and says please don’t do snow removal on my residential road.”
Transportation was identified as one of the main priorities for Calgarians, including infrastructure, traffic, and maintenance.
“I will say that sometimes people say, why doesn’t the city just stick with fixing potholes? I would in fact say our road maintenance index is probably the best anywhere. I drive in a lot of cities and I think our crews did an amazing job of filling all those potholes this year,” said Nenshi.
The mayor added that there has already been historic investment in transportation infrastructure, as five interchanges were built in 2017, compared to “five, or maybe six” constructed during previous Mayor Dave Bronconnier’s tenure.
But while people are clamoring for some increased investments, respondents are ready to pay for it. In the fall of 2018, 52 per cent of surveyed residents agree with increasing taxes to maintain or expand services.
“Every year at this conference, someone says why didn’t you ask people if they want to reduce taxes and increase services? Because we don’t ask people if they like unicorns and rainbows and lollipops. Because, of course, that would be 100 per cent,” Nenshi said. “In fact, I would argue that’s an area that we don’t always do a good job of. Because if Calgarians are telling us to improve services, we generally try our best to toe the line.”
59 per cent of citizens also say they believe we get good value from our property taxes.
The Calgary Fire Department, 911, and the quality of drinking water received the highest satisfaction marks, with parks and pathways rounding out the top five.
The survey was conducted by Ipsos, and gathered responses over the phone from 2,500 randomly selected people over the spring and fall. The responses will become part of the conversation for council’s upcoming budget debates, which begin on Monday.
The complete survey can be found on the city’s website.