Economic, social and health and safety considerations topped the list of Red Deer residents’ COVID-related concerns.
A survey of 3,083 city residents was done by the Ethelo online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.
The survey found that 79 per cent of respondents were concerned about the economy, 78 per cent were worried about social impacts of the pandemic, and 76 per cent were worried about health and safety.
Other worries concerned hospital capacity, the well-being of essential workers, impacts on children, public testing and transparency, and impacts on personal freedom.
Ethelo also found 54 per cent of Red Deer residents favoured mask-wearing rules while 43 per cent did not. Two per cent were undecided.
The survey showed that most city residents — 18 per cent — get their COVID-19 information from the provincial website. Some 15 per cent turned to the city’s website and the same number went to Facebook.
About 13 per cent of the public relied on news media and about 10 per cent on radio, while nine per cent turned to family and friends for information.
“We are a very critical conduit,” said the city’s communications manager Tara Shand, who noted the city’s website gets more public views whenever recreation or other city-related services and programs are directly impacted.
Mayor Tara Veer said the municipality has asked the province to be given heads-up, advanced notice of changes before the provincial government releases information at daily press conferences — however, this is not always happening, making it harder for the city to be responsive to public concerns.
City manager Allan Seabrooke said, for instance, the government came out today and said to the public “we will move to Step 2” of reopening the economy — but they didn’t fully move to Step 2.
While more fitness activities are now allowed, only those that do not require a lot of “perspiration” were given the green light, he added.
This is an example of the complexity of information the city has to sift through to try to get accurate information out to the public — it has often been confusing, admitted Seabrooke.
Several councillors spoke out against the provincial government recently removing a ministerial order that gave community peace officers the ability to enforce pandemic-related restrictions. Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she wanted a rationale as to why this was done.
Coun. Vesna Higham was concerned this would shift more responsibility on already busy police officers.