Calgary and Vancouver Praised by Citizens for Services, Environment

Residents of Canada’s four largest cities appear mostly content with their quality of life, but identify different problems in their respective municipalities, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion public opinion poll has found.

The online survey of representative samples in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal was conducted for City Age Media. The full findings will be presented at The Innovation City, a conference to be held on Jul. 18 and 19 at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

City Problems

Respondents to this survey were provided with a list of eight problems or concerns, and asked which one is the most important in their own community today.

One third of Vancouverites (33%) said affordable housing is their main concern, while a similar proportion of Torontonians (32%) mentioned traffic and transit.

Montrealers and Calgarians were more worried about health care and hospitals (25% and 23% respectively).

Traffic was the second biggest problem in Calgary (21%), while Vancouverites mentioned homelessness and poverty (14%). Unemployment and crime were both regarded as a worry for 13 per cent of Torontonians.

Municipal Governments

Three-in-five Calgarians (62%) say their current municipal government is doing a “very good” or “good” job. Vancouver was second among the cities surveyed at 42 per cent, while Toronto (28%) and Montreal (21%) were the lowest ranked. Two-in-five Montrealers (42%) said their government is doing a “very bad job” right now.

Despite this fluctuation in the government question, at least three-in-five respondents across all cities are satisfied with their quality of life (Montreal 75%, Toronto 80%, Vancouver 82%, Calgary 87%). There is also an evident sense of belonging from residents, which is particularly strong in Toronto, where 87 per cent of respondents say the word “Torontonian” best describes who they are. Choosing city over province was also prevalent for Vancouverites (80%) and Calgarians (75%), but fewer Montrealers (59%) concurred.

City Issues

When city residents assessed the way their respective governments are handling 11 different issues, Calgary had the highest rating on seven of them: promoting tourism (78%), ensuring public safety (72%), enhancing quality of life (60%), responding to the needs of citizens (57%), giving citizens an opportunity to have their say on issues that matter to them (56%), dealing with homelessness and poverty (45%), and being accountable (49%).

Montreal is the clear winner on fostering artistic and cultural activities (73%), while Calgary and Vancouver were virtually tied on protecting the environment (Calgary 65%, Vancouver 63%), and providing good sanitation services (Calgary 84%, Vancouver 82%). It is important to note that no city reached the 30 per cent mark on implementing policies to help small businesses. Toronto and Montreal received very low ratings on dealing with homelessness and poverty (20% and 18% respectively) and being accountable (26% and 23% respectively).

Descriptions of the City

Respondents to this survey were provided with a list of words that could be used to describe their city. The responses were mostly positive in all cities. Calgary is the overall leader on six categories. Its residents regard it as a city on the rise (90%), a livable city (89%), a place where you can find a good job (88%), a good city to start a business (75%), a city that embraces innovation (73%), and a city that is connected and has accessible digital infrastructure (71%).

Torontonians believe their city is enriched by diversity (90%), is a global financial centre (79%) and has top-tier educational opportunities (76%). Montrealers regard their city as a cultural capital (83%), affordable (64%) and with extraordinary public transit (56%). Vancouver is seen by its residents as a city that embraces sustainability (72%) and a world class city (71%). There was a tie on being a city that embraces newcomers (Toronto and Montreal at 86%).

The biggest drawback across the four cities surveyed is infrastructure. Calgary and Vancouver are ahead of the 40 per cent mark, but Montreal (35%) and Toronto (27%) hold lower numbers. There are also some severe fluctuations on specific topics, such as the low rating for Montreal on being a city on the rise (41%), a paltry showing for Toronto on having extraordinary public transit (27%) and a negligible proportion of Vancouverites who feel their city is affordable (7%).

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From July 9 to July 11, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 402 randomly selected adults in the City of Vancouver, 401 randomly selected adults in the City of Calgary, 401 randomly selected adults in the City of Toronto, and 407 randomly selected adults in the City of Montreal who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 4.9% for each city. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current age and gender and Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of each city. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.