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Published on Friday, April 7, 2017

Town gets high marks in survey

Majority of Oakville residents satisfied with the municipal government: 2017 survey

Town gets high marks in survey
Oakville Town Hall
1225 Trafalgar Road
By Nathan Howes, Oakville Beaver
Oakville residents say the Town is doing a good job — according to results of a 2017 survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights.

The survey reported 81 per cent of residents are happy with their municipal government.

It also reported residents are more concerned about affordable housing, less concerned about taxes and prefer to get their information about the town via the municipality’s website.

Top concerns however are urban sprawl and development, with the next two traffic and congestion, then affordable housing.

While Oakville’s ‘livability’ saw a decline in residents’ eyes in 2015, it remained stable this year.

What makes Oakville ‘livable’ is its parks, recreation and availability of sports and teams; as well as a small town feel.

On the other hand, the top reasons why Oakville may not be as ‘livable’ as it could be were all related to housing — the need for more affordable housing as well as over-development being the most often mentioned challenges, both rising significantly this year.

Residents really like the winter road maintenance standards in town, are concerned about growth and natural environment and traffic.

The Town conducts a survey every two years to track overall citizen satisfaction with its performance, identify emerging issues and help set strategic priorities for the future.

This is the eighth citizen survey conducted by Oakville.

“Feedback from our residents is our most valuable measure of success and we always welcome the opinions of our community,” stated Mayor Rob Burton, in a media release.

“We’re encouraged by the positive results of this survey and will use this feedback to guide our efforts toward making Oakville an even more livable, thriving and vibrant town.”

In January, Pollara Strategic Insights conducted a 20-minute phone survey, where a random sample of 805 residents was asked for feedback about their community.

In addition to the phone analysis, 400 online surveys were completed and 28 ideas were generated on the Town’s idea forum on oakville.ca.

During a presentation to Council Monday, April 3, Craig Worden, executive vice-president of Public Affairs for Pollara Strategic Insights, discussed the Town’s “consistently high” marks in overall satisfaction.

“Oakville residents continue to express high satisfaction with their municipal government, the services it provides and the town attributes that it manages,” said Worden.

The survey indicates however that with eight in 10 residents satisfied (three in 10 very satisfied) that’s a decline from findings in 2015 and 2013.

As well, men (33 per cent) are more likely than women (25 per cent) and those aged 35-54 (85 per cent) more than those over 55 (78 per cent) to be very satisfied with the Town’s governance levels.

Conducted earlier this year, residents were asked to rate specific Town services, as well as key attributes of it.

Overall satisfaction with important aspects was at 85 per cent, while overall approval with Town services was at 89 per cent.

The highest levels of satisfaction with town attributes were feelings of belonging and safety (95 per cent), overall appearance of the community (88 per cent), and information provided to residents (84 per cent).

The survey also indicated 10 of 12 services received satisfaction ratings exceeding 80 per cent; with parks and green spaces (93 per cent), library services (88 per cent) and recreation fields and facilities (88 per cent) rounding out the top three.

Approval of winter road and sidewalk maintenance went up this year to 81 per cent, up from 74 per cent in the 2015.

To assist the Town with prioritizing policies and plans, residents were asked to identify on which priority they would most like to see the Town focus.

Residents indicated managing and controlling growth in Oakville (62 per cent) and the town’s natural environment (58 per cent) were the main priorities, while ease of travelling, and governing and managing the Town, tied at third (45 per cent), followed by recreation and cultural programs (42 per cent) and economic growth (41 per cent).

When thinking of ease of travelling around town, residents first and foremost want the Town to add and widen roads and bridges (29 per cent).

Residents indicated they feel the Town should make fiscal responsibility (streamlining processes to ensure cost-efficient delivery of programs and services) and open and accountable government top priorities.

The survey indicated, while one quarter of residents picked either of those two as their preferred priority, one in five chose other items that relate to openness and transparency: opportunities for public input (21 per cent) and improving access to Town information to track performance (18 per cent).

Residents identified, as the top three issues currently facing the community, urban sprawl and development, traffic and congestion and affordable housing.

Regarding transportation, the survey provided context that: While almost all residents predict they will use a car to get around town in the next year (97 per cent), walking is the next most popular mode of location transportation (95 per cent), followed by bicycling (64 per cent).

The survey stated public transit will likely be used by almost four in 10 residents (37 per cent) and that convenience trumps all else when deciding on transportation methods, though the time it takes to reach a destination is also quite important.

While affordable housing was rated significantly higher in importance in 2017 than previously, the significance of taxes continued a steady decline, according to the survey.

Other highlights include, 85 per cent satisfaction of residents with their customer service experience, remaining steady since 2015 and 2013 levels, increasing by seven per cent from 2011.

Eighty-seven per cent of residents also stated service was provided in a timely manner.

Online communications also continues to grow in popularity among residents, with 73 per cent identifying oakville.ca as the preferred way of finding Town information.

While almost a quarter of residents surveyed would like to see the Town add new services and facilities, a third do not want to see any tax or user fee increases.

Asked how a maintenance or enhancement of services should be financed, 75 per cent who’d like to see it happen, prefer to hike user fees rather than increase property taxes, stated the survey.

The survey also queried voter turnout and support for online voting.

It reported eight in 10 respondents say they voted in the last municipal elections.

Half say they would be more likely to vote if online voting were offered in the next election.

“Council will continue to focus on controlling growth, providing exceptional services and investing in high-quality infrastructure, all while giving residents the best value for their tax dollars,” said Burton.

“The results of this survey show that residents and Council are on the same page in our efforts to make Oakville the most livable town in Canada.”

Current and past survey results are available to view on the Citizen Surveys page at oakville.ca.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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