Prince George residents are happier than they were in 2005, according to the city’s 2007 Quality of Life Survey.
City communications manager Christine Russell and long-range planning manager Grant Bain presented the survey results to city council last week.
Residents surveyed ranked their overall happiness at 5.9 out of seven on average. Up from 5.7 in 2005.
“Compared to the levels in 2005, April 2007 had better results,” Russell said.
The city sent out 2,000 surveys in April and received 411 responses, she said.
The response rate was the second-lowest since the city started doing the surveys in 1994.
However, Russell said, the results are statistically accurate to within five per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The areas of happiness, quality of life, life satisfaction, self esteem, recreational activities, financial security, health, friendships, employment and family relationships all saw increases of 0.1 to 0.5 points between November 2005 and April 2007.
Respondent’s satisfaction with their house, living partners and spiritual fulfillment all stayed level with 2005.
The only area to see a drop in satisfaction was in respondent’s neighbours, which saw satisfaction rates drop from 5.7 out of seven to 5.5.
The average age of respondents was 52 and the majority were married, educated and employed full-time or retired.
Councillors Murry Krause and Sherry Sethen raised concerns about groups such as the poor and illiterate who weren’t well-represented in the survey results.
“It is a challenge getting people from the full range [of socioeconomic status] to fill them out,” Russell said. “We try to keep the surveys shorter for that reason.”
Bain said the survey’s focus on the official community plan, growth and development provided, “some pretty meaningful findings.”
“Fifty-eight per cent of respondents were happy with the rate of overall growth,” Bain said. “[But] 65 per cent believe that industrial development is having a negative impact on their quality of life.”
Air quality was the main reason cited by 88 per cent of those who said industrial development is damaging their quality of life.
Environmental protection topped the list of community priorities identified by the survey 74.8 per cent said the environment was a priority.
“If we don’t have a healthy environment, we don’t have anything,” councillor Brian Skakun said.
Other priorities included housing affordability, broadening the city’s economic base, job creation, industrial growth and improving the appearance of the community.
“Supply of housing and quality of housing for the elderly were the most prevalent issues with housing,” Bain said.
Mayor Colin Kinsley said the report confirmed city council is being responsive to community needs.
“We’re going in the right direction and we’ll use this as a tool to keep us on track,” Kinsley said. “It helps us put in context what the most important things are.”
To see the full survey results, go online to www.city.pg.bc.ca.