Kitchener residents say inadequate public transit and transportation is the single most important issue facing the city, suggests a wide-ranging survey commissioned by a city advisory group.

Of 1,002 respondents surveyed, 33 per cent listed transit and transportation as the top local issue. A further 10 per cent said the top issue was unemployment and a poor job market. Traffic and congestion issues were picked by six per cent of respondents, as were tax issues. Thirteen per cent chose "other," while 13 per cent also chose the "don't know" option.

“Public transit as well as roads, they go hand in hand,” said Zehr.  “It’s a clear signal that we need to make sure that we put our energies into public transit and good road systems.”

But Theron Kramer, chair of Compass Kitchener, the city council advisory committee that commissioned the survey, said its result should be taken with a grain of salt.

 “At this particular time there is a lot of stuff being talked about in terms of transit so this is top of mind for people,” he said.

When asked which transportation issues should be considered top priorities for the city, 69 per cent of residents listed both road maintenance and improving road safety. Among other transportation issues that respondents said should be considered top priorities, 51 per cent reported "improving public transit," 41 per cent selected "improving cycling infrastructure," while 22 per cent selected "building more roads."

Kramer said he was surprised that many of respondents’ concerns related to driving, instead of alternative forms of transportation.

“I think we do have a long way to go in terms of the whole issue of transit and educating people about the importance of other forms of transit in our city,” he said.

Strong support for corporate sponsorships

Eighty-four per cent of residents said they would support corporate sponsorship of city facilities, programs and events as a way to generate revenue.

This could range from naming a community centre after a corporation to installing advertisements in public spaces.

“I know that there are some members of council who are very keen on this, and it is part of our budget deliberation discussion on Thursday of next week,” Zehr said.  

“I would certainly expect that that statistic from the survey will come out as part of the argument to make sure we pursue this,” he said.

Survey results will shape city’s strategic plan

The survey is a jumping off point to discuss the future of the city, Zehr said.

“The next step is to analyze the results and put forward some thoughts for the next strategic plan,” he said.

The results help guide the incoming city council on citizen priorities in an election year, said Kramer.

The survey results were taken from a telephone poll of 1,002 Kitchener residents from each of the city’s 10 wards. It also polled respondents on perceptions of the city, quality of life and citizen engagement.

It was conducted by Environics Research Group between November 26 and December 10.

The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.