Community Survey: you’re generally happy, but want more public engagement

spencer smith parkThe results are in and Burlington residents say that you’re generally happy with city services, but want more public engagement, snow clearing, better transit and transportation planning, among other things.

The Community Survey was conducted by phone by Forum Research in February 2015. Nearly all respondents, 96%, said life is Burlington is good or very good. The top three responses to what residents like best about Burlington were: access to amenities and services 15%, sense of community/small town feel 13%, and it’s safe/low crime rate 11%. The fewest number of mentions went to: it’s an attractive city 1%, lower cost of living/property taxes 2%, and good place to raise a family/family oriented 3%.

Regarding city services, 89% said that they were “somewhat” or “very satisfied,” a slight drop from 2011 and 2008, when respondents rated their overall satisfaction with city services at 95% (for both years). There was also a small increase, 4%, in the number of respondents who where somewhat dissatisfied in 2015, compared to 2008 and 2011.

The services residents were most satisfied with were:
download• Fire protection – 95%

• Parks and open space maintenance – 90%

• Parks, open spaces and sports fields – 90%

• City arenas – 88%

• Cemetery – 88%

• Arts and culture i.e. special events, festivals, public art – 87%

• Recreation programs – 86%


The services residents were least satisfied with were:

Does free parking for city employees create a risk with the CRA?

• Winter maintenance i.e. snow plowing, salting – 64%

• Traffic operations management i.e. traffic signals, crossing guards – 63%

• Building code permits and inspection – 63%

• Parking management, i.e. parking lots and enforcement – 60%

• Surface water drainage i.e. flood and erosion protection for properties and structures – 57%

• Transit service – 55%

• Transportation network planning – 52%


Respondents were also asked to rank a list of priorities that council should focus on. The highest rated priorities were:

images• Community safety – 76%

• Commitment to infrastructure i.e. renewal, maintenance, repair of assets – 76%

• Healthy community i.e. health and well-being of residents – 73%

• Sound financial practices – 69%

• Parks and community open, green spaces – 69%

• Economic development, prosperity, opportunity – 68%

• Well managed growth – 64%

• Traffic i.e. congestion, ease of getting around – 64%

destination downtown picturePublic engagement ranks lowest

On public engagement, only 18% of residents know the city has a Community Engagement Charter. Residents were asked to rate their level of agreement with a number of statements regarding the work the city is doing engaging residents in decision making. Over half of respondents, 64%, strongly agree or somewhat agree, that they have enough opportunities to provide input into decision-making about city projects and services. 63% would like to provide input to the city for the purpose of influencing decisionmaking.

Only 54% of respondents felt the city did a good job engaging residents in decision-making about city projects and services and only 50% felt the city used input from residents in decision-making.

This is the lowest satisfaction level of all the services.

Clearly, more effort must be taken to report back on how community input is used in the process.

Read the community survey and Appendices, including breakdowns by Ward, here:

Community Survey Item 11

My Take:

Your feedback on winter maintenance helped sway the decision to increase the winter maintenance budget for this year – that’s a good thing. You’ve also said you want more say in decisions – to participate rather than be merely represented in decision-making. The low scores on public engagement are a wake up call that we need to do more than simply inform residents of our decisions; you want to be involved. That’s remains an ongoing commitment of mine, particularly in planning development.

Your Take:

What’s your view of city services? Public engagement? Leave a comment below.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. I believe generally that the City of Burlington provides most services very well with the exception of garbage collection (black bag) every two weeks. I believe that the city should collect garbage every week, even if that means the number of bags is reduced. Especially so during the summer months at least.

What's your take?

Code of Conduct for councillors one step closer

Public Meeting: Thorpe neighbourhood, May 26