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Survey highlights residents' satisfaction, issues and concerns for Canmore

“I always find it really interesting and important for council to track these community perspectives. It’d be nice to do it more frequently, but the budget is a factor. Council did decide since it’s an election year and it gives us all a sense of community perspective and it’ll help the next council’s job of approving new budgets and new projects.”
CANMORE – A new survey is showing residents are most concerned about development in Canmore, especially in the Three Sisters area, transportation and affordable housing.

The survey was presented to council at its May 18 committee of the whole meeting and highlighted the ongoing issues faced by the community as well as the municipality’s strengths.

Erin Roulston, the vice president of public affairs for Ipsos in Canada, noted the survey ran from March 22 to 29 – in the immediate aftermath of the public hearing for the Three Sisters Mountain Village area structure plans – and the issues brought up were also common from survey respondents.

She called it a “snapshot in time” due to the timing.

The survey showed residents feel they have a high quality of life, they feel safe in the community and they are largely satisfied with the programs and services offered to locals and the response to the pandemic.

On the other end, development was a major issue expressed, particularly in its role in changing the town, while a higher need for environmental and wildlife protection was also desired.

The survey showed a wish for increased levels of recreation and culture, municipal services, transportation and social supports.

“We have seen declines in overall satisfaction ratings and trends. … There are municipalities who have had to struggle to pivot and struggle to provide programs and services formerly provided through different channels,” Roulston said. “We’ve had to learn how to adapt and so have residents of those municipalities. Have there been some pain points during COVID? Absolutely.”

While the Town’s communication was deemed by some residents to be lower than they wished, they have a significant online presence between social media and the Town’s website.

Roulston also emphasized with COVID-19, residents have above average expectations for the level and amount they hear from town council and administration.

“Communications in a time of crisis, residents and citizens at all levels of government are seeking communication from their governments to a greater degree and have higher expectations at this time,” she said.

The survey consisted of two methods.

The first was a random telephone survey of 300 people that lasted about 20 minutes. Roulston said the phone survey has quotas for age groups and gender groups to get a more equal proportion of representation among residents.

The online survey had 332 responses, but Roulston noted a person could respond more than once in the online version. She also highlighted there were more negative responses online than the phone survey, which is normal.

“We typically see more negativity in self-select surveys than we do in random representative sampling and we definitely did in this case as well. … The responses across the board were more negative and a little older in terms of the people who responded and definitely more females with fewer children and ratings for Town performance, satisfaction ratings with programs and services, engagement opportunities were all lower.”

Roulston also suggested the next telephone survey could be expanded to 400 people and they could examine different options than an online survey. The last such survey was done in 2017.

“I always find it really interesting and important for council to track these community perspectives,” Canmore Mayor John Borrowman said. “It’d be nice to do it more frequently, but the budget is a factor. Council did decide since it’s an election year and it gives us all a sense of community perspective and it’ll help the next council’s job of approving new budgets and new projects. It’s a very good process and we’ve all had high confidence Ipsos does for us.”

People can visit www.canmore.ca/town-hall/community-statistics/citizen-satisfaction-survey for more information.