The City of Fernie has released the results of their 2020 Citizen Satisfaction Survey.
The survey was made available to the public for 14 days from February 11 to 24 and was intended as a way for citizens of Fernie to give input and feedback on a variety of city programs. According to survey documents, 481 people completed the survey which is a 73 per cent increase in participation over last year.
Although residents across all age categories participated in the survey, the highest number of respondents were in the 35-44 age range with almost 35 per cent. Adults aged 25-34 made up the second largest group in the survey, with just over 20 per cent.
Part of the survey was to gauge overall satisfaction with quality of life in Fernie. This was measured by asking respondents to say whether they were very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Almost 51 per cent of citizens said that they were satisfied with quality of life in Fernie while 23.49 per cent proclaimed themselves to be very satisfied. About four per cent of people said they were very dissatisfied and 13.51 per cent claimed to be somewhat dissatisfied. The rest of the respondents answered that their feelings were neutral.
One thing that became clear from the survey results is that the majority of Fernie residents are optimistic and hopeful about the future of Fernie. The survey also noted that people are fairly likely to recommend Fernie as a place to live and do business, with the majority of respondents selecting numbers three to five on a five point scale with one being not very likely and five being very likely.
Another section of the survey asked citizens to reflect on what they like most about living in Fernie. The mountain lifestyle ranked high in the results but people also mentioned the vibrant community, the natural surroundings and world class recreational amenities for skiing and biking and the community events and activities that take place throughout the year. Other respondents noted that Fernie is a safe place to live and that it is very family friendly.
Although most of the survey results come across as fairly positive, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t areas for improvement. Housing was listed as one of the most important issues that the community would like to see government action on. People expressed concern over housing affordability, rental availability and the effects of short term rentals on the town. Other important issues included community planning, economic diversity, affordability and cost of living, municipal infrastructure and more.
Some survey respondents listed concerns over aging infrastructure and overcrowding in Fernie’s schools as a main concern while others pointed to community trails, snow removal and roads as big ticket items to improve in the future.
According to survey documents, “Fernie provides a broad range of services, largely funded by property taxes. Examples include emergency response services, business licensing, regulating what types of buildings can be built in specific areas, as well as building and maintaining public assets like roads, water services, sewer, parks, playgrounds and trails.”
When asked how they rate the overall quality of service delivery in Fernie, 44 per cent of residents said ‘good’, while 25 per cent were neutral and further 23.07 per cent rated it either poor or very poor.
Survey respondents also noted that they continue to find fire protection services, police services and bylaw enforcement services vital to life in Fernie. Public opinion found that fire and police services are perceived as doing well in the community but that there may be room for improvement on the bylaw enforcement side of things.
Fernie residents proved their love of community and outdoor spaces by rating the importance of recreation facilities, civic facilities, recreation programming, arts and culture activities very high. They also felt strongly that building and maintaining parks, playgrounds, sports fields and trails is important for our community. That being said, residents also let it be known that there might be some room for improvement in those areas, although many respondents said they remained neutral on responding to how the city was doing at providing those things.
Perhaps the area of the survey with the most negative feedback was the section asking residents how the city is doing with their roads and transportation services. The snow removal section, as well as the streets and roadways and sidewalks and pathways sections saw residents wanting the city to do better. About 36 per cent of people were happy with snow removal in the city, voting in either the ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ categories, while approximately 45 per cent of people voted in the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ categories.
The 2020 Citizen Satisfaction Survey is packed full of useful information regarding how citizens view life in Fernie and can be accessed on the City of Fernie’s website.