A newly-released citizens’ survey out of Penticton says that although 66 per cent of respondents believe things have gotten worse in the city over the last three years, views of the overall quality of life remain positive.
The impacts of the pandemic, as well as an increase in homeless population and open drug use, were cited as among the reasons most respondents said their quality of life was down.
Still, 61 per cent of residents rated their quality of life in the city as “good” or “excellent.”
“Like other cities in the valley, Penticton has seen a slip in residents’ perception of overall quality of life driven by concerns about affordability, housing and safety,” said JoAnne Kleb, the city’s manager of communications and engagement. “Despite this change, other indicators — such as Penticton as a place to find work, open a business and raise children — did see improvements from pre-pandemic levels which is very encouraging.”
Businesses open year-round and more food and beverage establishments in the city were listed as among the top reasons the remaining 34 per cent of residents feel quality of life was improving.
The survey, which was last conducted in 2019, asked residents to evaluate the quality of life in the city and the services it provides.
It was conducted between June 12 to 30 and received responses from a total of 1,400 residents. Along with inviting all interested citizens to participate, the city also surveyed a random sample of 322 residents.
According to the results, 44 per cent of respondents believe crime and safety is the most important issue facing the community.
The issues rounding out the top five include:
• Social issues, homelessness and drug use (36 per cent)
• Housing availability (29 per cent)
• Affordability and affordable housing (27 per cent)
• Climate and sustainability (six per cent)
The survey also includes more than 60 per cent of respondents opting for either community cleanliness or police services as the area in which they’d like to see the most investment from the city.
While 66 per cent of Penticton respondents feel their quality of life in the city has decreased since 2019, similar surveys conducted in Kelowna and Kamloops have that number at 55 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively.
According to a report released by city officials in Penticton, all three cities share social issues and crime and safety as two of the top three issues facing their communities.
Full results from the survey will be presented to city council on Aug. 1.