Survey indicates residents content with city hall, municipal services

NANAIMO – Mayor says communication with residents can still be improved.

Quality of life in Nanaimo is good, citizens are mostly satisfied with city staff and council, and taxpayers overall say they believe they receive good value for their municipal tax dollars, according to an annual survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.

The national pollster released its findings to city council Monday.

It conducted 300 telephone surveys of residents aged 18 or older between May 8-17 and weighed the data to ensure age and gender distribution reflects Nanaimo’s actual population, according to the 2011 census.

The survey indicates 95 per cent of Nanaimo residents believe the quality of life in the Harbour City is good or very good, 72 per cent are somewhat satisfied with city staff and council, and 87 per cent are satisfied at the overall level and quality of city services.

Seventy-one per cent said they feel they are receiving good value for their tax dollars.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said the results are encouraging, but there is more work to do at city hall to engage the public in municipal matters.

“The one thing to me that is of value is that it’s an independent outside review,” said Ruttan. “I don’t think they held back any punches and the report they presented truly reflected people’s opinions. But it does reveal some things that need to be focused on and maybe improved on.”

Ruttan points out that one of the messages “that came through loud and clear” is concern over a lack of communication between city hall and the electorate.

The city is hiring a new communications manager to address that, something Ruttan says is necessary.

“I think being proactive in getting information out to the community will be very beneficial, more timely and overall, better information than before,” he said.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said they were satisfied with how the city communicates to its citizens.

Information respondents said they’d be most interested in receiving from the city include tax and budget information (12 per cent), community planning and land use (11 per cent) and parks and recreation (six per cent). Twenty-one per cent they aren’t interested in receiving any additional information.

Factors driving the quality of life satisfaction rate include revitalization of downtown, growth and development, and amenities and services. Unemployment, job loss and low wages, however, were the top answers among those who said they believe quality of life is worsening in Nanaimo.

Social, economic and transportation issues led community issue concerns for those surveyed, though no single issue dominated.

The survey also revealed an even split among those who would prefer an increase in taxes to maintain or expand municipal services and those who would prefer reduced taxes and services.

Nineteen per cent said taxes should be increased to enhance and expand taxes, 24 per cent said taxes should be increased to maintain services at current levels, 26 per cent said services should be cut to maintain current tax levels and 15 per cent said taxes should be reduced to cut services.