Hinton’s citizens identified crime as the community’s top issue, followed by the economy and social issues, according to the citizen satisfaction survey.
The third Citizen Satisfaction telephone survey was conducted by Ipsos in Hinton this year, and the results were compared to previous surveys done every three years at the regular council meeting on Oct. 15.
“It’s particularly important to have research where we reach out to a random sample of the population, that way we get the full spectrum of what feelings and sentiments are rather than focusing on what is potentially a vocal minority,” said Marina Gilson, from Ipsos.
Trends were identified through the survey, and improvements to address low satisfaction in certain areas are ready to be made.
“This report will come forward in the strategic planning process and also when we present the level of service review,” said CAO Martin Taylor.
Overall, 92 per cent of people in the survey believed the quality of life in Hinton to be either good or very good. Slightly more than half perceived no change in the quality of life since 2016, while 32 per cent said it worsened.
Perceived improvements were due to better shopping, entertainment, and recreation facilities, while deterioration was due to crime, cost of living, town management and unemployment.
“While we see that unemployment and concerns about the economy have declined at the same time concerns about crime had increased,” said Gilson.
Although attitudes towards the municipality were fairly positive, satisfaction for council and administration did drop within the last three years to 68 per cent.
Satisfaction of town services and programs also declined slightly since 2016.
The highest rated programs and services were fire services, public works, garbage and recycling, and outdoor recreational amenities.
Citizens were asked about the importance of services, allowing a comparison between satisfaction and importance to create a clear view of which services they felt needed improvement.
The services most in need of attention were maintenance and upgrades of streets, police services, indoor rec facilities/programs, affordable housing, and social services. Only 29 per cent felt there is currently enough affordable housing in Hinton to meet needs.
The majority of citizens felt the town should be spending more or the same on current programs, while only a small percentage thought spending should be cut to programs.
Seventy-one per cent of citizens believe they are currently getting good value for their tax dollars.
Taxes should be increased to maintain or improve services according to 48 per cent of citizens, versus 38 per cent voting for tax cuts. Two thirds of citizens felt the town creates opportunities for citizens input and considerations.
The survey also showed that a lot of shopping is being retained in Hinton with 51 per cent of people buying less than a quarter of their household goods outside of Hinton.
“Though, fifty per cent of residents are making food purchases outside of Hinton, which is somewhat concerning,” said Gilson.
Ipsos is a global market and opinion research specialist that uses methodology and resources not easily available or achievable for municipalities.
A random sampling of the community took the survey, with results weighted to reflect Hinton’s demographics and population. Results in the report are considered accurate to within +/- 5.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 of what they would be if the entire population of the Town had been polled, stated the report. Council and administration can now use the results to review the community’s satisfaction and perception of importance of services and service levels.
To view the full report go to hinton.ca and view the regular council meeting agenda of Oct. 15.