More than three-quarters of Maple Ridge residents are happy with their quality of life in the city, according to a recent citizen satisfaction survey.
Of those who aren’t, most cite homelessness, drugs, and crime as their main concerns.
Lack of shopping opportunities was also high on the list of complaints, as was traffic congestion, and poor road infrastructure.
“Access to the outdoors and outdoor activities, along with the parks, scenery, etc. are what residents like best about living in Maple Ridge,” noted the report, which city council reviewed Tuesday during its daytime workshop meeting.
About 51 per cent of respondents rated the city’s overall handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as either “very good” or “good.”
“This is very important – that you go out to your citizens, and you find out how you’re doing,” said Mayor Mike Morden of the survey, adding reaction will help direct the city strategic plans.
The wide-ranging survey looked at city programs, services, and general quality of life.
Vancouver-based Sentis Research was hired to conduct the survey, that saw 6,000 households randomly selection to participate. Of those, approximately 20 per cent took part, and 1,187 questionnaires were completed.
The questions have remained consistent since the survey was first done in 2003, but the 2020 survey did add questions about the city’s response to COVID-19.
Submissions were taken online and by telephone from Oct. 6 to 28. The last such survey was conducted in 2014, and they were also done in 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2012.
The satisfaction with quality of life in Maple Ridge is considered high, with 77 per cent of respondents saying their are either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” But 16 per cent report they are dissatisfied.
Asked about satisfaction with municipal services, 49 per cent rated it either “good” or “very good,” and just 13 per cent “poor” or “very poor.” However, the perceived value for taxes was mixed, with 28 per cent rating it positive, 27 per cent negative, and 45 per cent unsure.
The most common complaint for the dissatisfied was garbage collection, with 18 per cent mentioning the lack of city service. Staff noted the city had held a plebiscite on city garbage collection, and it was not approved.
The survey showed a majority of people want the city to do a better job of attracting new businesses and employers.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef asked staff to share the results of the survey with Insp. Wendy Mehat, who is the acting officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows RCMP.
Yousef said council should take note that there was a five per cent drop in the “very satisfied” population since the last survey in 2014, and almost a doubling of those “somewhat dissatisfied.”
“It looks like we have our work cut out for us,” he said.
Morden answered that the opioid epidemic is a new factor impacting those concerns of homelessness, drugs, and crime.
“That’s why it’s important to do these surveys frequently, so you can track these various pieces, because since 2014 we have a nice little product on our streets called fentanyl…” said the mayor.
Coun. Judy Dueck said she doesn’t see the lack of shopping opportunities changing, unless residents change their buying habits.
“The reality of in-person shopping, I think, has changed forever, unfortunately,” she said. “So people will continue to say they want retail outlets, but they continue to go online and do their shopping. It’s going to be something we struggle with.”
Coun. Gordy Robson said the highest demand for commercial space is in neighbourhoods.
“We are not fulfilling those needs as we are developing our neighbourhoods,” he said.
He said the problem will be around for decades “because you’re not going to tear houses down to build stores.”
The survey is considered accurate to plus/minus 2.8 per cent 19 times out of 20.
The survey comes at the mid-point of council’s term, and staff recommends the next survey be done in fall of 2022, to inform the incoming council.