What Burlingtonians told market researchers they liked and did not like about living here - what's not to like?

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

June 1, 2015


Part 1 of a series.

Public opinion polling is an important tool used by politicians at every level to determine what people think and feel about an issue.
A critical issue for Burlingtonians, besides saying how well they feel they are serviced by the various city departments, – is how involved they feel they are in the decisions made by city council.

The data produced by the polling and the way it is being interpreted by city hall and the different members of council was significant enough for the Gazette to cover that story separately

As city council prepares to begin debating what the strategic Plan should be for the next four years they gather together as much data as they can.
One of the major research projects is polling the public for their opinions on how well their government is doing.

The good stuff will get trumpeted and the not so good gets a quick look – maybe a nod and then they move on.

Some of the questions asked of the public are so self-serving as to be painful – others elicit a lot of very useful information

Let’s take a detailed look at what the city learned about itself.

Forum Research interviewed 771 people. The same firm did the public research polling in 2011.
In a preface to the report Forum said:

With a population nearing 180,000, it is cherished for its small town feel, green city heritage, and a high quality of life. As well, its economic strength and sustainable growth has made it one of the most thriving City’s in Southern Ontario. Committed to open and transparent governance that delivers quality services to its residents, the City of Burlington hired Forum Research to conduct a Community Satisfaction survey to gather resident input for various topics and issues.
Specifically, the purpose of the 2015 Community Satisfaction survey was to:

1: Measure resident satisfaction and importance toward various services offered by the City of Burlington;
2: Measure perceptions toward quality of life improvement;
3: Determine key sources that respondents are using when seeking information about programs / events / festivals happening in the City; and
4: Determine awareness and attitude toward citizen engagement opportunities in Burlington.

The report produced was extensive and we will take you through as much as we can.

The crunch point for a number of people is how well the city is doing on community engagement – the numbers were not good but the current Mayor and a number of members of council somehow found a silver lining in the data.

This research was conducted via live agent Computer-Assisted-Telephone-Interviewing (CATI) of randomly selected residents in the City of Burlington. Respondents were called between 5:00pm and 9:00pm from February 5th to February 12th, 2015. A total of 771 interviews were completed, each approximately 18 minutes in length. The margin of error was +/-3.5, at the 95% confidence interval level.

Place to liveOverall Impression of Burlington as a Place to Live
When respondents were asked to rate the City of Burlington as a place to live, nearly all respondents (96%) said it was at least ‘good’. However, the majority of respondents (86%) said it was either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ (48% and 38%, respectively). Just over 1% of respondents said ‘very poor’. The overall impression of Burlington as a place to live amongst respondents was very positive, and consistent with findings in 2011, as well as in 2008.

Has quality of life in the City of Burlington changed in the past four years? Although the majority of respondents (54%) said quality of life has stayed the same in Burlington, 28% said that it has improved. Less than 10% of respondents said quality of life has worsened.

WEhat they like best about living in BurlingtonWhat Respondents Like Best about BurlQuality of life improvementington
Respondents were asked what they like best about living in the City of Burlington. Top mentions were: access to amenities and services / has everything we need (15%), sense of community / small town feel (13%), it’s safe / low crime rate (11%) and easy access to Toronto / central location (10%).

Agree with the visionRespondents’ Vision of Burlington
This question reads as if it was written to pull a positive response; what was there not to like in the question which asked: whether or not they agreed that the following statement is a good reflection of what the vision for Burlington should be: “A place where people, nature and businesses thrive”. Nearly all respondents (96%) agreed.  How could you disagree with it?

The politicians will be pulling the answer to this out of their bag of tricks for the next six months.

Part two of this series will focus on the delivery of specific services and the public satisfaction.

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