Calgarians’ satisfaction in city declines further amid COVID-19 pandemic: survey

Calgary skyline at night with Deerfoot Trail in the foreground. Getty Images

While the majority of Calgarians consider their quality of life in the city “good,” the COVID-19 pandemic has played its part in altering perceptions in the city’s latest citizen satisfaction survey released on Monday.

Seventy-nine per cent of Calgarians say quality of life is “good,” down from the 83 per cent recorded at this time last year, but on par with the most recent survey in the spring.

Less than half — 44 per cent — said their quality of life in the city has ‘worsened,’ slightly less than the 47 percent who said the same from this spring at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet an increase of four per cent compared to the Fall 2019 survey.

More than four-in-ten Calgarians said the quality of life in Calgary has ‘stayed the same’ over the past three years, consistent with the Spring 2020 and Fall 2019 satisfaction surveys.  But only 14 per cent of the 2,500 Calgarians surveyed said their quality of life has improved, up from 10 per cent in the spring, but down slightly from fall of last year.

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Read more: Calgarians still consider quality of life good, but worsening: survey

“As many Calgarians are facing uncertainty, we are not surprised to see citizens rate their quality of life in Calgary as slightly lower than last year,” a city news release said.

Seventy-seven per cent of Calgarians say the city is a great place to make a life.  However, only 58 per cent of people believe Calgary is a great place to make a living, a decline from 63 per cent in the Fall 2019 survey.

Most Calgarians believe the city is on the right track to being a better city 10 years from now, but that too saw a decline of six per cent from the Fall 2019 survey.

In a new question added to the Fall 2020 satisfaction survey, 87 per cent of Calgarians felt the city is an overall safe place to live.

Fifty-nine per cent of Calgarians think that crime in their neighbourhood has stayed the same over the past three years, while 33 per cent of respondents felt it has increased; only four per cent said they’ve noticed a decline.

Less than one-in-three Calgarians believe “infrastructure, traffic and roads” are top issues for the city, followed by “crime, safety and policing.”

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The issue of city taxes ranks third in importance to the Calgarians surveyed, a slight increase from Fall 2019.

Read more: Calgarians could see lower municipal taxes in 2021

Twelve per cent of Calgarians cite “transit” as an important issue, coming in as the fourth-most important issue in the survey, a drop from last year when it was recorded as the second most important issue for Calgarians.

Only one-in-ten Calgarians pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as being most important issue the city to address, an increase of five per cent from the spring satisfaction survey.

In a new question added to the survey, more than three-quarters of Calgarians — 78 per cent — said the pandemic is a threat to their mental health, while 76 per cent of Calgarians consider COVID-19 to be a threat their personal financial situation, including 32 per cent who deemed it a “major threat.”

Meanwhile, 71 per cent of respondents said they were employed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but among those Calgarians, nearly half — 46 per cent — reported experiencing a job loss or income loss as a result of the pandemic.

Survey respondents said they want the city to invest more in affordable housing, social services for seniors and youth, road maintenance, snow removal and disaster planning and response, in that order.

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Meanwhile, several areas noted a double-digit decrease in desired investment including the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Fire Department, traffic flow management and transportation planning.

The city also tracked how Calgarians feel about the value of their property taxes. Slightly more than half of Calgarians — 54 per cent — said they feel they’re getting good value for their property taxes, on par with the two most recent satisfaction surveys.

When asked how the city should balance taxation with service levels, half of those surveyed said the city should increase taxes to expand or maintain services — up four per cent from the spring — and 44 per cent said the city should cut taxes and reduce city services.

Read more: Calgary Coun. Woolley ‘not apologizing’ for calling Chu a ‘moron’ after defund police vote

Meanwhile, Calgarians trust in the city has seen a significant decline to 48 per cent in the most recent survey, down from 57 per cent one year ago, while distrust in the city has remained consistent among two of every ten Calgarians surveyed.

Seven-in-ten Calgarians surveyed said they are satisfied with the way city council and administration are running the city.

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(The survey was conducted by Ipsos in participation with the City of Calgary. It had a sample size of 2,500 people, randomly selected to complete the telephone survey between Aug. 17, 2020, and Sep. 6, 2020. Both cell phones (45 per cent) and landlines (55 per cent) were called for the survey. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

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