Public trust way up in municipal survey 

Snapshot of community life presented to council

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Public trust in Whistler's local government has never been so high, at least since it's been tracked and measured by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Seven years ago, in the first annual Community Life Tracking Survey, 43 per cent of permanent residents believed that local decision makers had the best interests of the resort community in mind when making decisions, at least most of the time.

In the ensuing years, that number hovered between 47 per cent and 52 per cent.

Today, it's 69 per cent. That's more than a 20 percentage point jump from 2010.

"It's hugely gratifying as an elected official to know that the work that we're doing is being positively responded to," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the spike in the community's trust. The mayor was elected last November on a platform to rebuild trust, among other issues.

"One of my personal goals was to gain the trust of the community," she said.

The results of the annual Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) survey were presented to council Tuesday night.

In addition to the soaring trust, Whistler scored high marks elsewhere too.

A snapshot of community life shows that it's good to live in Whistler, according to the locals:

• 97 per cent of permanent residents are satisfied with Whistler as a place to live or spend time (94 per cent of second homeowners),

• 99 per cent are satisfied with Whistler's opportunities for recreational physical activities (96 per cent of second homeowners),

• 100 per cent are satisfied with Whistler's access to nature (98 per cent of second homeowners),

• 91 per cent are satisfied with Whistler's atmosphere and ambiance in the village (94 per cent of second homeowners).

Even the municipality gets good grades for services, village maintenance and programs. Almost 80 per cent of permanent residents perceive the services provided by the RMOW to be good value for money.

Maintenance of community trails and parks, village maintenance, municipal recreational programs and facilities, water utilities — all scored above 90 per cent in terms of satisfaction.

"Some of these are phenomenally high when you compare them to other municipalities," municipal administrator Mike Furey told council.

The high marks however stop when it comes to transit and education.

Just over one-third, or 36 per cent, of permanent residents are satisfied with Whistler's personal opportunities for formal learning through schools and colleges and other organizations with accredited courses in Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor. That number drops to 19 per cent for second homeowners.

As for transit, just over half, or 52 per cent, are satisfied with local transit services. That jumps to 65 per cent for second homeowners.

Councillor Jack Crompton asked staff what the stats mean in terms of making decisions.

In response Furey said the results will be used in budget development heading into the 2013 municipal budgeting cycle.

"They'll also be used going forward in terms of our work in the corporate plan in terms of our goals and objectives," said Furey, adding that general managers also use them to reorient their service levels.

High priorities for municipal budget allocations according to residents continue to be snow clearing on local roads, local transit services and maintenance of parks of trails. Arts programming and facilities scored as the lowest priority for budget allocation from the choices given.

The phone survey included 300 permanent residents and 200 second homeowners. The results do not include the more than 180 online responses filed. Those will be presented in a separate report.

The survey costs between $20,000 to $25,000 annually.

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