In March of 2018, the City of St. John’s contracted MQO Research to conduct the City’s first ever Citizen Satisfaction Survey. A total of 502 surveys were completed, and the results are in.
78% of respondents rated quality of life as 7 out of 10 or higher. 7 out o 10 ain’t bad in this ever-angrier populace of ours. Nearly half of us (47%) gave quality of life an A grade. It’s worth noting these stats are skewed by our top-heavy population of older folks: the 55+ demographic generally responded to questions more favourably.
Where things take a dip is in our perception of having a high value for our tax dollars: this area dips to 56% satisfaction. Those living in Ward 1 (downtown and area) are particularly unsatisfied.
Otherwise, we mostly don’t know what’s making us unhappy, and live up to the Newfoundlander’s inclination to rage against things for the sake of it: When asked what the City should focus on outside of basic services to improve the quality of life for residents, almost one-quarter of us (23%) were unable to provide a response to this question.
Unsurprisingly, road maintenance and snowclearing were the leaders of articulated discontent, and key areas for improvement as well.
Mayor Breen says, he’s pleased to see the majority of residents are happy with their quality of life in St. John’s, and acknowledges there’s work to be done to alleviate key areas of concern, like perceived value for tax dollar, snowclearing, and road maintenance issues.
“These results help us identify and confirm strategic priorities, gaps in services, citizen perceptions on what matters most, and a benchmark against which we can measure improvements over time,” explained Mayor Breen.
The results are weighted by age, gender, and ward. Weighting by gender seemed a little odd, but did reveal patterns: women are more likely to rank Arts & Culture as important to them for instance, or to praise our Curb It! Program, and the 311 apps.
What it tells us of each ward is pretty clear: Wards 1 and 3 (downtown and the west end) see life in the city as rosier than those living in wards 2, 4, and 5. Ward 5 are the least pleased to be here.
A lack of recreational activities and programming in general was a common complaint, especially for youth and the elderly. A notable complaint given things like our grim health statistics for lifestyle-related diseases, or the social isolation commonly reported among widowed seniors. People are quite happy with our parks and open spaces – seems like there just needs to be more happening within in them, as is the case of late with Bannerman Park.
Residents between 18-34 are particularly upset with the city’s offering of public transportation, and should be. In most any capital cities, public transportation is generally the easy, quickest, cheapest means of getting from point A to B. In fairness, this ain’t no fancy grid city and lacks capacity for a subway system, but still. Our obsession with driving and parking for instance, hinders the diversification of our transit system.
As one last tidbit from the survey, it turns out the biggest difference we could enact to make more people vote would be to have more polling stations. We’re underestimating how many of us have transportation, perhaps, or the fitness of those who can’t drive.