THUNDER BAY – Crime and community safety are increasing concerns in Thunder Bay as the lowest rate of respondents to a biannual poll report satisfaction with their quality of life.
While four out of five respondents to this year’s citizen satisfaction survey rate the quality of life in Thunder Bay as either very good or good, that’s the lowest level since tracking began in 2009.
The 82 per cent satisfied with their quality of life is a drop of five per cent from the previous survey two years ago and continues a decline from 92 per cent in 2013. Thirteen per cent rated their quality of life as poor.
Results of the 2019 citizen satisfaction survey, which was conducted last month by public opinion research company Ipsos, were released at Monday night’s Thunder Bay city council meeting. The survey results were based on telephone interviews with 500 city residents, with 60 per cent contacted by landline and the remaining 40 per cent by cell phone.
“Overall, your numbers are good. They’re not horrible in any sense of the word,” Ipsos director Diana MacDonald said.
“Sometimes they’re not falling significantly but it’s coming over a period of time. Many of your numbers are falling off since 2013. It’s been trending downwards. It’s not a significant change each wave but it’s marginal changes and eventually it adds up and you end up having a nine-point drop between 2013 and 2019.”
The respondents’ views of crime and community safety indicate emerging concern, with 54 per cent viewing Thunder Bay as a relatively safe city, compared to an average of nearly 70 per cent during the four previous surveys.
Satisfaction with the Thunder Bay Police Service dropped by six per cent compared to 2017.
Despite the growing perception of crime in the city, only 12 per cent reported being the victim of a crime in the previous year with another seven per cent knowing someone that was victimized.
MacDonald suggested that trend could be a result of increased media coverage of crime and community safety issues.
“When people overall think that crime is up, I think that does impact on how they answer questions about the police and about whether laws are being enforced,” MacDonald said.
Along with the drop in the view of quality of life, the perception of city services also decreased. The 81 per cent that expressed being either very or somewhat satisfied with city services was also the lowest since data collection began in 2009, continuing a downward trend from 89 per cent in 2013.
Street maintenance was the largest source of frustration from respondents. Twenty-five per cent expressed a level of satisfaction, including only five per cent being very satisfied. That level represents a 13 per cent decline from 2017 and is less than half of the 53 per cent that provided a positive response in 2015.