Results from the latest City of Red Deer Citizen Satisfaction Survey are in, and crime is still top-of-mind for the majority of respondents.
“Overall it is deeply concerning for the City that crime continues to be an issue for our community and so we have identified safety as our number one priority in our work plan,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
Veer added City of Red Deer staff take the survey very seriously and that it is used to build council’s work plan and priority agenda for the coming year. As seen with changes to the snow and ice removal policies, the survey directly translates into areas that the City needs to make alterations to and adjust the budget to fit.
As a community, Red Deer continues to see high rankings in terms of overall satisfaction with City services and amenities, and the general quality of life they experience living here.
“Even though we have had very consistent rankings on [quality of life] in the past, I don’t think we can ever take that for granted. There are many communities that can’t necessarily claim that,” Veer said.
Some of the other areas of concern for the 300 people surveyed include transportation and general municipal services. Veer noted these numbers are consistent with the 2016 survey and add to council’s plans for future improvements.
Social issues also appear in the survey results as being a top-of-mind community issue. Veer said a huge contributing factor is the economic adversity that the region is currently experiencing.
"I think that in light of the fact that we are navigating through a deeper recession than we have before, every major urban centre in Alberta is faced with very consistent crime challenges, and we know for a fact that there is a very strong correlation there to socio-economic factors," she said.
After a number of years at the top of the list, Veer explained crime continues to be dealt with by way of adjustments to the Annual Policing Plan.
“I think it is a fair statement that citizens are concerned by [crime] because they’re impacted by it. While not every citizen is impacted, some aspects of crime, especially property crime, does seem to have proliferated which is of course going to have a direct impact into how people feel about community safety," she said.
City Manager Craig Curtis said in looking at the statistics from last year, even though Red Deer saw a significant increase in crime, it was still a lower overall increase than larger communities in Alberta including the larger metropolitan areas. Fifty per cent of respondents said crime was the number reason why quality of life here had become worse.
Overall, Curtis said the survey shows Red Deerians are proud and conscious of the quality of life in Red Deer, with 79 per cent saying they are proud to be a resident.
“I think that a lot of people really come back to this community because it has that quality of life and therein lies the pride and I see that in the survey,” he said.
Curtis said there were no huge surprises but that the City is very pleased with the drastic increase (almost 30 per cent since 2014) in people satisfied with the snow and ice management. Traffic management also saw an increase in satisfaction which Curtis said can be directly attributed to some of the roads maintenance done recently.
All things considered, the results of the survey were encouraging to City staff. Curtis added, however, that he feels surveys in the coming years may highlight more concerns of the environmental sort.
Mayor Veer was also asked about the 79 per cent of respondents who said they are proud to be a Red Deerian and what that says about the other 21 per cent.
"Great streets make for great neghbourhoods and great neighbourhoods make for great community. Those individuals who are indicating they are not proud to be part of our community, I can't necessarily speculate why a citizen would feel that way," she says.
"We do know, mostly anecdotally, that when people engage, they become proud of the community in which they live. As far as those who have areas of concern, the City has adopted a culture of continuous improvement and we live by that day to day."
Full results of this year's survey are at RedDeer.ca.
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