SASKATOON — A survey conducted by the City of Saskatoon shows that residents are still satisfied with how things are in the metropolis, despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Citizen Satisfaction and Performance Survey was conducted via telephone and online, where respondents identified COVID as the most important issue facing the city.
The survey was supposed to be conducted last year but was postponed due to the pandemic. Separate surveys will now be held on a rotating business starting in 2022 (Civic Satisfaction and Performance) and in 2023 (Civic Services Service: Performance, Priorities and Preferences).
Forum Research Inc. conducted the survey in the spring and summer of this year. Results of the telephone and online panels, for both surveys, are reliable and representative of the population due to the random selection process, according to those conducting the survey. When compared to the 2016 Canadian Census, this sample is reflective of the Saskatoon population, based on age and gender.
“We’re glad to see that even in light of the pandemic, a healthy majority of those surveyed told us they continue to enjoy a good quality of life and are satisfied with the services the City provides for the community,” said Carla Blumers, director of Communications and Public Engagement.
Public safety/crime/policing, road maintenance and taxes came in next in that order. The issue on road construction and maintenance has steadily declined as an important issue from the respondents.
Eighty-eight (telephone) and 87 (online) per cent of panel respondents expressed overall satisfaction on the quality of services provided by the City. Half of the respondents also indicated COVID-19 affected their answers.
City communications received 85 per cent from telephone panel while another 71 per cent of respondents said the City provides timely and helpful information on impacts to civic services during the pandemic. About three quarters of respondents (78 per cent telephone and 73 per cent online) said the City also provides safe environment to access City facilities and services despite the pandemic.
More than 80 per cent (80 on telephone and 87 online) also mentioned they are satisfied on the quality of City communications. The City also received 76 per cent (telephone) and 77 per cent (online) from panel respondents saying they provide meaningful opportunities to participate in public engagement.
Transportation and utilities (reliability of electrical services, quality of drinking water and speed of water main break repairs); community and public services (fire protection, maintenance of City parks and police services); waste management (garbage and recycling collection and landfill services); and recreation and culture (indoor leisure centres, outdoor sports fields and paddling pools and spray parks) were the areas of services respondents provided answers.
All respondents (telephone and online) noted the City should improve its performance in the areas of snow and ice road maintenance, major road and freeway maintenance, traffic management, neighbourhood street maintenance, accessibility of infrastructure for people with disabilities and planning for growth and development.
They also mentioned the City should provide more services for affordable housing, road maintenance and snow and ice management.
Mayor Charlie Clark said all City employees deserve credit for the survey results showing the approval of residents in regard to communications and customer service.
“We’ve seen employees become more adaptable than ever imagined in the last two years. This has allowed them to engage with residents in new ways as well as create more efficient ways to provide services,” he says.
“Participation from residents in these surveys is critical to highlight areas of strength, but also areas where improvement is still needed to deliver the results our residents come to expect. The lessons learned will allow the City of Saskatoon to better meet the expectations of residents now and in the years to come.”
The City of Saskatoon will use the results to direct decisions related to strategic priorities, budgeting and service delivery, as well as to highlight opportunities for continuous improvement.
Clark added it was gratifying to learn residents are still pleased with how things are in the City despite the ongoing pandemic.
“After all that we’ve been through in the last few years, it’s encouraging to see that while we know that there are still areas to improve upon, overall, Saskatoon citizens continue to be satisfied with their quality of life, services and the handling of and communications throughout the pandemic,” he says.
“This speaks not only to City of Saskatoon staff, but to the community as a whole for their contributions in making Saskatoon a great place to live. The results of these surveys are a testament to the ability of our staff and City to adapt in an increasingly changing world.”