News / Calgary

Boomers vs. millennials: Calgary's citizen satisfaction survey digs into demographics

Calgarians overall are very satisfied with the city's services and quality of life

Most Calgarians, 84 per cent, think the city is on track to becoming a better city.

JENNIFER FRIESEN / For Metro

Most Calgarians, 84 per cent, think the city is on track to becoming a better city.

Millennials see the city through rose-coloured glasses, while boomers are more likely to have a pessimistic view of life in Calgary, according to the city's latest citizen satisfaction survey.

What's more is the general public has a more favourable outlook on what the city is doing than the business community.

On Monday, the City of Calgary released its annual citizen satisfaction survey detailing the general sense of how people feel Cowtown is doing. This year, the survey included a data set on economic perceptions that compared businesses to citizens.

But in general, the city seemed most divided along generational lines.

"There are higher levels of dissatisfaction and frustration within that boomer category, specifically compared to millennials," said pollster Jamie Duncan, vice president of Ipsos. "We hear the narrative ... that small town that maybe isn't as small of a town as it used to be, and that's a context for their frustrations."

People who have lived in Calgary for more than 20 years are four times more likely than those who have lived here less than 10 years to see the city "unfavourably," they're less likely to trust the city and less satisfied with the city's quality of life – despite generally higher satisfaction with the city's quality of life.

In 2017, citizens' overall perception of the quality of life in Calgary increased 2 per cent over 2016, to 85 per cent. Millenials were even happier than the general population, and rated quality of life at 91 per cent, compared to baby boomers' 80 per cent.

This is the first year that the city has publicised demographic data.

"One size doesn't fit all in terms of our service delivery," said Jeff Fielding, city manager. "This is the first time we've had more insight into how different populations within our city respond to our surveys differently."

Fielding said the city needs to gather more data by demographic so it can tailor services to different populations.

Though some councillors disagreed with the idea that the city should be catering to a younger generation.

"You talk about boomers, hello – and millennials, but there are other age categories," said Coun. Dianne Colley-Urquhart. "How many millennials you talked to pay taxes?" said Colley-Urquhart. "It's great to say you want all these things, but if you're not paying taxes you sort of want the world."

Coun. Druh Farrell took issue with the line of questioning and reminded her fellow councillors that renters contribute to taxes through their monthly leases.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the demographic stats are extremely helpful because it gives the city an idea of what citizens value and how to best communicate with each community.

"It's really important for city council and my colleagues to understand these different perspectives," said Nenshi. "We know that young people are delaying home ownership, we know that young people are driving much less, yet its difficult for us to think through those things in terms of the decisions we make."

The random survey was done between August 16 and September 10, 2017, using both landline and cell phones. Data were weighted to ensure it reflected the city's actual population.

With a 2,500 person sample, the margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Opposing views:

- 42 per cent of boomer population say quality of life has worsened vs 24 per cent among millennials.

-Boomers are twice as likely as Millennials to say they have an unfavourable view of the City of Calgary.

-Those who have lived in Calgary for more than 20 years are four times more likely to say they have an unfavourable view of the City of Calgary than those who have lived here less than 10 years. Generally, 64 per cent of Calgarians see the city in a good light.

-When it comes to trusting the City of Calgary, generally, 62 per cent trust the city, 15 per cent don't and 23 per cent of those surveyed were neutral.

- Boomers, likely men, are three times more likely to lack trust in the city, and in that group of mistrust long-time Calgarians are five times more prevalent than newcomers.

Businesses bump heads

The survey found businesses are more sceptical of the city than average citizens.

Whereas 70 per cent of people said they trusted the City of Calgary to make the right decisions through an economic downturn, only 52 per cent of businesses said the same.

Similarly, when it came to having confidence in the city's ability to work closely with the private sector to develop solutions for the city's economy, only 39 per cent of businesses answered favourably, compared to 70 per cent of the general population.

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