The results are in for Whistler’s sixth Community Life Tracking Survey, and satisfaction levels among residents are generally high in most areas, although there is significant room for improvement.
The phone survey, conducted between June 20 and July 6, polled 300 permanent residents and 200 second homeowners, who spend part of the year in Whistler.
“For the next while, every time I consider an issue … I’m going to go back to that survey and see what the community actually thought about that particular issue, so that I can continue to be in touch with what the community thinks,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
Perhaps the most positive sign was the level of satisfaction residents felt with Whistler as a place to live or visit, with 97 per cent of permanent residents expressing their satisfaction, the highest that number has been since the study began in 2006, while 94 per cent of second homeowners said the same.
Another bright spot in the report was the level of trust community members felt in municipal officials with 69 per cent of permanent residents and second homeowners saying they believe municipal leaders are acting in their best interest all or most of the time. For permanent residents, this was a 22 per cent jump from two years ago, and an eight point increase for second homeowners.
Wilhelm-Morden admitted that one of her personal goals as mayor “was to gain the trust of the community.”
“It’s hugely gratifying as an elected official to know that the work that we’re doing is being positively responded to,” she said Tuesday (Oct. 2) following the report.
While most of the results showed positive trends for the municipality, there were some areas where satisfaction levels decreased from 2010.
53 per cent of permanent residents polled were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with Whistler’s transit services, a 15 point plunge, with 13 per cent saying they were very dissatisfied.
A similar trend was seen with second homeowners, with 65 per cent saying they were satisfied with transit, which represented an 11 point drop compared to the last survey.
The decrease in satisfaction with transit, the first drop since 2008, can likely be attributed to the municipality cutting service hours last year, something that the mayor hopes to rectify with the upcoming zoning change to the underused transit facility. The site will potentially provide added revenue for the RMOW to reinvest back into bus service.
Another topic that garnered a negative response from both permanent residents and second homeowners was the level of opportunity for formal education in Whistler. Consistent with the previous study, 36 per cent of permanent residents were satisfied, while 19 per cent of second homeowner felt the same. Although it should be noted that the majority (75 per cent) of these respondents were neutral on the issue, understandable considering they are less likely than permanent residents to pursue post-secondary education opportunities within the community.
Just over a third of permanent residents and second homeowners cited the municipality’s operational concerns, which included issues like spending, economic stability, taxes and community services, as the main issue facing Whistler.
Local concerns over the lack of available housing has dropped significantly over the last few years, with only five per cent of permanent residents and seven per cent of second homeowners citing it as the most important issue facing Whistler. This is a major drop from 2008, when nearly half of permanent residents saw it as the main problem facing the community.
Most respondents agreed that the top priority for municipal budgeting should be snow removal on local roads, with 81 per cent of permanent residents and 74 per cent of second homeowners calling it a high priority.
Overall, the report demonstrates that Whistler’s new council has made significant efforts to improve municipal operations and services while certain areas, like transit and educational opportunities, have room to improve.
Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey welcomed the report Tuesday, calling the results “phenomenally high when you compare them to other municipalities.
“It’s worth acknowledging…the work that has been done on some of these services,” he added.