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Few Calgarians focusing on arena debate, more on taxes, money management: poll

New poll looks at most important issues facing Calgarians
WATCH: A new poll asked Calgarians what they thought the single most important issue facing the city was. Doug Vaessen has details on the results.

A new poll released Monday suggests that despite the ongoing, very public dispute over whether Calgary will soon see construction on a new arena, the issue won’t sway many voters on election day.

FULL COVERAGE: Calgary election 2017

The poll, conducted by Janet Brown and commissioned by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, asked Calgarians a number of questions, including what they thought the single most important issue facing the city was.

Taxes, money management in spotlight

Of the 300 people asked, 31 per cent said taxes and money management was the top issue. Economy and jobs came second at 23 per cent and the third most important issue was infrastructure, coming in at 19 per cent.

The prospect of a new arena came in at just eight per cent.

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Of the people who identified taxes and money management as the biggest issue, 44 per cent said they believe the city is overspending.

Calgarians are very much focused on fiscal and economic issues at the moment,” Brown said.

“Issues that dominated discussion in the last municipal election, such as infrastructure, traffic congestion, affordable housing, and transit, are far down the list of concerns in 2017.”

Forty-two per cent came from homes with a household income of $60,000 to $100,000 and 39 per cent have full-time jobs.

Economy and jobs

Many of the people who identified jobs and the economy as major issues. Of those, 38 per cent were aged 18 to 24. Thirty-two per cent live in the city’s southwest and 34 per cent have university degrees.

Of those people, 37 per cent came from homes with a household income of more than $100,000.

Is the city overspending?

The next question posed to respondents was whether they thought the city was mismanaging money — the majority, 55 per cent, said yes.

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The majority of those polled said they think the city needs to find ways to spend more efficiently.

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“Moving forward, Calgarians want a city council that’s committed to efficient spending and keeping tax increases in check,” Brown said.

Another 30 per cent said the city is doing a good job with its spending. A small percentage, 11 per cent, said the city is underspending and therefore infrastructure and services are suffering. Four per cent answered they didn’t know.

What about property taxes?

The majority of Calgarians polled, 57 per cent, said they’d heard, seen or read something in the news about the rising property taxes impacting businesses outside the downtown core.

Of that majority, 80 per cent said they believe the city should take steps to make sure hikes such as 150 to 200 per cent don’t happen again. Fourteen per cent said no, and another six per cent said they didn’t know.

READ MORE: Calgary city council unanimously approves 2017 property tax freeze

When asked what the next city council and mayor would need to focus on to address some of these concerns, Brown said “they need to focus on their strategy for dealing with declining revenue brought on by the economic downturn.”

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A sample of 300 Calgarians aged 18 years and older were contacted at random by telephone – 50 per cent were landline numbers and 50 per cent were cellphones – between Sept. 19 and 25. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.