Between July and August, Kneehill County residents were given the opportunity to participate in the county’s first citizen satisfaction survey.
Approximately 10 per cent of residents, some 220 respondents, answered the survey regarding their satisfaction with services, overall quality of life, and council priorities; the results of the survey were shared with council during the regular Tuesday, September 28 council meeting.
“We worked with Christine and her team to send every resident that had a mailing address a survey with a unique link that was only tied to that particular address, so no one could complete the survey multiple times,” said Leger Vice President Eddie Sheppard during the presentation.
This is only one of a few surveys which have been conducted by Leger during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, some 80 per cent of residents noted they have a positive quality of life, while six per cent noted their quality of life in Kneehill County is poor. These results are consistent among other municipalities, even pre-pandemic, according to Mr. Sheppard.
73 per cent of respondents said in the last three years their quality of life in Kneehill County has remained the same; six per cent said it had improved, and 21 per cent said it had worsened.
Those who said their quality of life decreased, 26 per cent said it was due to poor county council and lack of accountability.
However, Mr. Sheppard noted this was a very small sample size, approximately 46 respondents, and was not the majority. While Mr. Sheppard said these numbers are not alarming, he noted it is something to pay attention to.
62 per cent of respondents said Kneehill County is a great place to raise a family, 61 per cent would recommend Kneehill County as a place to live, and 59 per cent are proud to live in the county.
There were some areas of improvement which Mr. Sheppard pointed out to council.
Only 34 per cent of respondents felt the county is planning for the future, and Mr. Sheppard noted this could be a big area for improvement; he also noted creating a sense of community and belonging was another area the county could improve, though this is an area municipalities are struggling with across the board due to the impacts COVID-19 restrictions are having on community events.
“We have seen these scores drop across all our research,” Mr. Sheppard said. “And that’s largely due to the fact there’s been a lack of ability to do so.”
Overall, 57 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the services and programs offered by Kneehill County.
Fire and emergency services were the services residents were most satisfied with at 84 per cent; cemeteries and wastewater collection, recycling and transfer stations were also among the top three at 78 and 75 per cent respectively.
However, residents were not satisfied with public engagement, business supports, or land use, planning and development services, with each only receiving satisfaction rates of 46, 45, and 44 per cent respectively.
There were several issues respondents noted the county is currently facing; 14 per cent said the most important local issue is improvements in
council and more transparency. Roads, bridge infrastructure, and gravel road grading came in as the second most important issue at 13 per cent, while local economy and business growth, and fiscal responsibility both came in with 10 per cent.
Respondents reported they were overall very satisfied with Kneehill County staff; 75 per cent felt staff were courteous and helpful, while 70 per cent felt they were easy to get in contact with when necessary, and 69 per cent found them knowledgeable.
Despite favourable opinions on Kneehill County staff, the feeling was not mutual toward council.
Although 44 per cent of respondents said they felt the county were quick to respond to requests and concerns, only 34 per cent felt council practiced open and accessible governance.
These were areas Mr. Sheppard noted offered opportunities for improvement.
The input received from the survey will help council determine areas and opportunities for improvement, and will be used in the future to determine delivering services and strategic planning.