Calgary·Calgary Votes 2021

We asked Calgarians what the top goals for the next mayor and council should be. Here's what they said

“Citizens are focused on the importance of addressing both economic and social concerns.” Janet Brown breaks down new polling numbers on Calgarians’ priorities.

Economic development, roads and reducing crime top the list

Editor's note:  This CBC survey was conducted Sept. 22 to 30, 2021 by Alberta-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The survey sampled 1,000 residents of the City of Calgary. As always, it should be remembered that a poll is a snapshot in time.


Regardless of who is elected Mayor of Calgary on October 18, that person will be part of a city council that has to juggle a host of complicated priorities.

Recent polling conducted exclusively for CBC Calgary asked about the goals Calgarians want their city government  to pursue over the next four years.

Nineteen goals were listed, and respondents to the poll were asked to rate them on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero meaning not important, and ten being extremely important. 

At least 50 per cent of Calgarians give a high importance rating (7 to 10) to 14 of these goals.

The goals Calgarians find most important tend to fall into four broad categories:  the City's economic and fiscal health, the reliability of City services, the livability of the City, and various supports for disadvantaged members of the community.

The fact that so many issues are rated highly in importance speaks to the complicated times we live in. 

Just prior to the pandemic, Calgarians were almost exclusively focused on economic issues. But the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities faced by certain groups in society. As a result, citizens are focused on the importance of addressing both economic and social concerns.

Take a look at the graph below.

Economic And Fiscal Concerns

Among all concerns tested, there is strongest agreement that the City of Calgary needs to encourage economic development over the next four years (83 per cent). Also rated highly is the need to control City spending and the City budget (73 per cent), to keep residential property taxes low (71 per cent), to encourage the development of a vibrant downtown core (54 per cent), and to keep commercial and business property taxes low (50 per cent).

City Services

Calgarians also place a high level of importance on the services that are core to the successful operation of any municipality, including the goal to maintain Calgary's existing road system (79 per cent), improve snow clearing (64 per cent), and expand public transit (60 per cent).

A Liveable City

The data also shows Calgarians support priorities that will make the City more livable, including the goal to improve public safety and reduce crime (76 per cent), to attract and retain talented young people to live and work in Calgary (72 per cent), and to address climate change (54 per cent).

Social Supports

Finally, there is strong support for goals that will support disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in the City, including addressing homelessness (70 per cent), improving access to affordable housing (70 per cent), and addressing systemic racism (59 per cent),

Other Goals

While still important to many Calgarians, fewer than half of people surveyed give a high importance score to the goal of expanding Calgary's road system (47 per cent), encouraging urban density (40 per cent), or building more recreational facilities including pools and leisure centres (39 per cent).

The goals that were rated lowest in priority were building a new arena and events centre (31 per cent), and expanding bike lanes (28 per cent).

Voter Goals and Voting Intention

Looking at supporters of the three leading mayoral candidates (according to this same survey), there are interesting differences in the priorities of those Calgarians intending to vote for each candidate. 

To be clear, these numbers reflect voters' alignments, and make no comment on the candidates themselves or their goal priorities.

As you can see in the graph, Jyoti Gondek's supporters are most likely to give a high importance rating to the goals of improving access to affordable housing (85 per cent), addressing homelessness (82 per cent), and attracting and retaining talented your people to live and work in Calgary (81 per cent).

Jeromy Farkas' supporters are most likely to give a high rating to controlling City spending and the City budget (92 per cent), encouraging economic development (88 per cent), and keeping residential property taxes low (88 per cent).

Jeff Davison's supporters are most likely to give a high rating to encouraging economic development (96 per cent), and improving public safety and reduce crime (89 per cent).

A Balance

Setting priority goals is a complicated process for any government. This survey illustrates an intersection of economics concerns and social concerns. As an expression of voter expectations, it is a daunting list for the next mayor and council to contend with, and turn into policy.


Methodology:

This survey was conducted Sept. 22-30, 2021 by Alberta-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The survey sampled 1,000 residents of the City of Calgary aged 18 and over, randomly selected from Trend Research's online panel. Quotas were set to ensure representativeness in terms of city quadrant, age and gender. Minimal weights were applied to match Statistics Canada population data. A comparable margin of error for a study with a probabilistic sample of this size would be plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For subsets, the margin of error is larger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janet Brown

Alberta pollster

Janet Brown is a longtime political commentator and pollster in the province.

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