A City of Wetaskiwin citizen satisfaction survey highlights the city’s strengths and areas upon which to improve. The results of the September survey were presented to council at its Nov. 14 meeting.
“In terms of resident issues, our top issues in 2016 included attracting more business, stores, shopping, restaurants — very similar to 2015 — roads and infrastructure … 11 per cent were concerned about high taxes and property taxes, and we saw a significant decline in that as being a concern,” said Tracey With, vice president of Banister Research and Consulting INC.
She added the city’s budget was also a concern and concern over crime and criminal activity doubled from last year to eight per cent. Development and growth of the city saw a decrease in significance, down to six per cent from 13 per cent.
With informed council 400 telephone interviews were conducted, including a cell phone sampling and interviews conducted with the city’s younger population.
City of Wetaskiwin rating categories: quality of life, quality of services provided, management of community affairs, and management of growth and development all remained constant with 2015 or saw an increase. Management of growth and development was determined by Banister to have seen a “significant” increase, from 23 per cent to 30 per cent.
City council ratings saw a drop in four of its five areas, and a significant decrease in council’s response to public inquiries: 42 per cent last year and 34 per cent this year.
Voters gave a better standing to council’s ability to reflect their views in council decisions, up to 32 per cent from 30 per cent.
“Overall ratings, Wetaskiwin continues to rate high,” said With.
When it comes to quality of services and facilities there was a display of mixed results. “We did see a bit of a decrease in the RCMP this year,” said With. RCMP was labeled as a significant decrease, down to 85 per cent from last year’s 93 per cent.
“We did link this to terms of safety,” she added.
With explained survey results indicate, within areas of public safety, overall consideration of the community as a safe place to live went down significantly, down to 64 per cent from 75 per cent. Feelings of safety walking alone in the dark decreased and feelings of safety walking alone in daylight stayed even with last year at 90 per cent.
Ratings of outdoor recreation facilities increased significantly, up 11 per cent from 69 per cent; recreation programming increased significantly, 69 per cent from 58 per cent; and the Wetaskiwin Municipal Airport increased significantly, up to 46 per cent from 39 per cent.
Perceived value from property taxes; 39 per cent of survey participants feel they are getting good value, up eight per cent from last year. The next highest bracket, at 25 per cent, feel the value for their money is neither good nor poor.
A majority no — 67 per cent — indicate they are not willing to pay more for improved services. This remains the same as in 2015.
In terms of services improvements, this year road, sidewalk and repair services decreased in importance from last year and 41 per cent of participants have no opinion of specific improvements mentioned.
“Your staff are busier this year, plain and simple,” said With. Face-to-face communication increased and phone communication decreased.
“Customer service ratings did see a bit of a slide,” said With.
However, she added this is not a surprise, as staff become more busy providing the same level of service will become more challenging. “Your staff are still working hard, they’re just working harder speaking with your residents.”
At 68 per cent, customer service expectations are what people were expecting — the same as last year. Being treated worse than expected increased two per cent over last year to 11 per cent.
As main sources of information, the city’s website remains the top source and is climbing from last year. The telephone book is the second top source. The Wetaskiwin Times newspaper declined two per cent as a source to get information and the Pipestone Flyer newspaper saw an increase of one per cent over last year.
Parade of Programs, What’s Happening in Wetaskiwin and the city’s website all increased significantly as effective means of communications. Frequency of city website use declined significantly from 47 per cent to 31 per cent. Familiarity of the website did see an increase of four per cent.
The presentation was accepted by city council as information.