The results of the annual Citizen Satisfaction Survey have indicated that generally, Red Deerians are pleased with the level of service maintained by the City, but are showing concern over local crime and public safety.
City Manager Craig Curtis presented the information gathered from the survey this week, with confidence in the City’s ability to address the needs and issues brought up in the community.
The top mentions this year of community issues were crime (28% of total mentions), municipal government services (13% total mentions) and transportation (12% total mentions).
“Safety is not just a police issue – it’s an addictions issue which is a health issue, it’s a social issue and it’s a housing issue – all of those together,” Curtis said.
“That’s how I would explain the fact that people are relatively happy with our police service, but the other aspects are causing problems. That shows us that we need a better advocacy strategy and way of dealing with addictions and we need the provinces help on the health side of that.”
“Our crime issue is something we have to deal with as a community, but it’s broader than just policing. It’s a socioeconomic issue.”
From July 8th to July 21st this year, Ipsos conducted a telephone survey of 300 randomly selected Red Deer residents, aged 18 and older to gather the information in the survey. The survey is meant to assist the mayor, councillors and City administration to stay in touch with residents and ensure City projects are headed in the right direction.
The data helps the City set benchmarks for issues management, quality of life and service delivery in areas such as police service, traffic management and infrastructure.
“Basically, we review this in the more detailed version during the budget review to help decide where we need to focus our efforts,” said Curtis.
“When there were many complaints about snow removal, we developed an entirely new program on snow removal. A few years ago, there was a reduction in road maintenance in the budget and we ended up with a huge pothole problem and we invested more in preventive road maintenance and crown paving and now that opinion has been reversed.”
Ninety-eight per cent of survey participants said that the quality of life in Red Deer was very good or good. As well, 97% of people interviewed indicated they are very or somewhat satisfied with the overall level and quality of City services.
This year, the survey revealed that citizens are interested in community planning, new developments, municipal taxes/property taxes/budget, road/transportation/transit, parks/recreation/arts/culture and job opportunities.
“The age-old saying goes, ‘It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times’,” Curtis said.
“We have a problem with our economy and with unemployment and we have a number issues in the province as a whole. I think at the same time, people really love Red Deer and feel attached to it and enjoy the quality of life here.”
When respondents were asked about opinions on balancing taxation and service delivery levels, 54% of people said they would increase taxes to maintain services at current levels, or to expand or enhance services. Thirty-nine per cent of people said they would cut services to maintain or reduce current tax levels.
The full results of the Citizen Satisfaction Survey are available on the City of Red Deer web site, under the ‘What’s Happening’ category. The survey results will serve as an advisory to council about where to allocate funds, focus City efforts and develop the community, officials added.