A decline in Lethbridge residents’ quality of life is among a myriad of issues Lethbridge city council heard about Monday as the results of a citizen survey were presented as part of the 2021-2022 budget deliberations.
The operating budget review got underway Monday, and is expected to be a marathon week of debate.
Sitting as the finance committee, members of city council heard 10 presentations to begin the review, including the results from an Ipsos poll of Lethbridge residents.
The 2020 Budget Priorities Survey was conducted between Aug. 26 and Sep. 6 of this year. The 401 randomly selected people were contacted either by landline (60 per cent) or cell phone (40 per cent) for an average call of 19 minutes.
The survey has been completed in Lethbridge five previous times — most recently in 2018 — and the results compared to two years ago revealed some possible discontent among residents.
When asked about their quality of life in Lethbridge, more than on- third (37 per cent) of residents said it had “worsened” since 2018; up from the 17 per cent who reported a decline in quality of life in 2018.
Just over half of respondents stated their quality of life had remained the same, and just nine per cent believed it had improved.
According to Ipsos, the main reasons given by those who claimed a worsened quality of life included issues in the city, crime, governance and COVID-19.
Those reasons mirrored the issues most mentioned by the entire sample of residents.
According to Ipsos, the Number One issue raised by survey respondents was drugs and the city’s supervised consumption site (SCS), with 43 per cent of the 401 people saying it was a concern, up from 4 per cent in 2018.
The ARCHES-run SCS shut its doors on Aug. 31, right in the middle of the survey period.
Social issues — including things like homelessness, affordable housing and racism — came in at a close second with 21 per cent of respondents saying it was an issue. COVID-19 was a concern for 18 per cent of respondents, and crime was the fourth-biggest concern with 16 per cent of surveyed residents mentioning it.
Full survey results can be found on the city’s website.
The Lethbridge Police Service was among the presenters on Monday, with Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh fielding questions for more than an hour.
Funding for a number of LPS programs is being examined by city council, including the Watch, Community Peace Officers (CPOs) and the Police and Crisis Team (PACT).
Mehdizadeh said he would be happy with funding remaining status quo, and he expects a number of initiatives will be rolled out in the new year that could bring about efficiencies.
The Lethbridge Public Library, Galt Museum, and Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden also made presentations on the first day of deliberations.
Lethbridge city council is aiming to pass a revised budget at the on Nov. 30 council meeting.