Downtown Red Deer. (Advocate file photo).

Most Red Deerians are still satisfied, but growing discontent is glimpsed in latest public survey

2019 Citizen Satisfaction Survey was presented to council

2019 Citizen Satisfaction Survey presented to council

A growing number of Red Deerians are concerned about rising crime and climbing taxes, according to the latest Citizen Satisfaction Survey.

About 300 city residents were interviewed by phone in May for the IPSOS survey that also found slightly less confidence in city council and the police than in last year’s poll. But the public confidence level in both is still higher than the average among other municipalities, said IPSOS representative Erin Roulston.

Ninety-three per cent of Red Deerians say their overall quality of life is good or very good and overall satisfaction with municipal services remains high, according to the 2019 Citizen Satisfaction Survey released to council Monday.

RELATED: Read the survey results here.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents said they receive very good or fairly good value for tax dollars.

When asked about how the City should balance taxation and service delivery levels, 47 per cent of respondents supported increasing taxes, while 41 per cent of respondents favoured cutting services. Roulston said this is the narrowest margin of any survey since Red Deer started doing them in 2006.

It indicates many people in this slower economy feel taxes have risen high enough.

Coun. Ken Johnston senses a simmering frustration that the economy is not significantly improving after four years.” People want things to get better” — and so does council, said Johnston, but he noted the provincial/global problem is not easily solved at the municipal level.

When asked about the change in quality of life, only 15 per cent of respondents said things have improved, attributing a well-managed municipality, job opportunities and enjoyment of living in Red Deer for the increase.

Those who said their quality of life was the same (43 per cent), or had worsened (41 per cent), cited crime, unemployment and social issues as the top reasons.

Mayor Tara Veer believes quality of life is tied most closely to a feeling of safety. “We will do whatever is necessary” to improve it, she said, encouraging the reporting of all illegal activity.

The top issues facing the community are: crime (according to 50 per cent of surveyed residents), social issues (23 per cent) and transportation (14 per cent).

Veer noticed crime has doubled in importance for Red Deerians, compared to last year, so this issue will to remain City Council’s top priority “until we see substantial improvements in the crime and social challenges.”

Roads were the highest priority for residents in terms of infrastructure (76 per cent), followed by water treatment facilities (69 per cent), recreation facilities (43 per cent), wastewater treatment facilities (43 per cent), and the transit system (38 per cent).

“Red Deer is consistently described as a beautiful and friendly city with numerous amenities and an expansive trail system that citizens cite year after year as reasons why quality of life here is so good,” said Allan Seabrooke, City Manager.

“Like any growing city, Red Deer is facing significant challenges, particularly in regards to crime and social issues and these issues are top priority for The City.”

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