Vancouver 311: Which neighbourhoods call (complain) the most?

Calls to Vancouver's 311 line continue to grow at an impressive pace, while some neighbourhoods are using the service more than others.

Kitsilano and Kensington-Cedar Cottage led the way in 2015

Calls to Vancouver's 311 line continues to grow at an impressive pace, while some neighbourhoods are using the service more than others.

The phone number is the first point of contact for any resident looking to ask if their community centre is open, book a city inspection or just simply vent.

"Complaint line right?" said Kristian Tocher, a Kitsilano home-owner who has called 311 to complain about parking on his street. "Rant and rave line I guess.

Sue Phypers says she uses 311 to help keep her neighbourhood "tidy" and calls often when she sees abandonded or illegally-dumped garbage. (CBC)

"People need something to feel better about ranting about I guess. Just get it off their chest."

The city has been collecting data from 311 calls since the service began in 2009 and does record, in which one of the 22 planning areas in the city, a complaint or request for service originates.

Kitsilano happens to be the leader when it comes to 311 use. In 2015, residents there made 9,660 calls to 311 out of the more than 118,000 made across the city.

When do the calls spike?

If you want to avoid wait times, it's best to call before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. 311 fields a high call volume for most of the day, but the heaviest load usually is between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

What are the top 311 calls about?

Requests range from asking for a new recycling box, to problems with parking, noise and even to complain about neighbours who appeared to be using too much water while restrictions were in place.

"I've called it mainly for untidy properties, you know, where people have just dumped garbage," said Kits resident Sue Phypers as she walked her two dogs through the neighbourhood.

"We've had a couple of places ... it's sort of a transient house, there's not permanent residents, and they really don't do well with their garbage and recycling, and often it's spilling out onto the street. It's been a little better, but I have called to say it hasn't even been put out in weeks. You know, and then we have rats."

Abandoned garbage and illegal dumping is one of the calls that has seen a big spike over the past five years. In 2011, 8,194 calls were made from across the city for the problem. In 2015, that number grew to 24,526.

Burning house call 911, burning question 311

"I'm glad people are using the 311 service, because it does help us, whether people are calling or not, we're not experiencing what they're experiencing," said Andrea Reimer, a Vancouver city councillor and resident of Kensington-Cedar Cottage, which is home to Trout Lake and close behind Kitsilano in the volume of 311 calls.

Kitsilano resident Kristian Tocher says he's not surprised residents in his neighbourhood are some of the heaviest users of Vancouver's 311 line. He's used the service for parking problems on his street. (CBC)

"[Summer] is a busy time of year at Trout Lake. There's a lot of people. It's a destination park. There's a lot of people who come from outside areas," she said. "[I] love having them there, and I love living that close to the park, but there's a lot of parking that happens in the residential areas. There's a lot of garbage that's left behind ... there's more noise that comes in."

311 too successful?

In 2015, there were 1,345,417 calls made to 311 across the city, an increase of more than 300,000 from 2011.

"I think it's been really successful," said Darcy Wilson, who is the director of Digital and Contact Centre Services for the city.

"Maybe even too successful, so that's why we're trying to create this digital journey, so people can use our digital tools before they come to us," he said, referring to a push to have residents use online or mobile tools to report problems, rather than phone one of 100 agents the city now employs.

Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer encourages 311 use by residents because it creates data which can be used to develop better policies. (CBC)

Wilson also says that the 311 data shows spikes in calls for events like 2015's English Bay oil spillwindstorm and Port Metro Vancouver fire.

In 2015, he said these incidences resulted in 13,000 more calls to 311.

Despite the dramatic events, residents like Phypers in Kitsilano say they're got the number at the ready, "just [for] my little community here, to keep it tidy."

"It has been helpful," she added "They give you a reference number, and I think I've ever only called once to say, 'look I called a week ago, nothing seems to have happened,' and then you've got that reference number to use so they can check it."


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