Calgarians Rank City Housing C+, Neighbourhoods B-

Recent Survey Finds Vast Majority of Calgarians are Happy – and Satisfied with Financial Well Being

The Calgary Foundation released its 2011 Vital Signs this week, an ‘annual community checkup that measures the vitality of the community, identifies significant trends, and assigns grades in 12 areas critical to quality of life.’

According to the 2011 report, Calgarians graded most issues the same or as slightly improved over last year. Safety, arts and culture, learning, and work all received B grades; citizen engagement, health and wellness, financial well being and neighbourhoods B-; getting around took a C; and housing, aging population and environmental sustainability garnered a C+.

Despite these rather average grades, an overwhelming 91% of participants described themselves as happy; 90% report they are surrounded by loving family and friends; and over 80% stated their mental and physical well-being as high.

The majority of graders said they are happy with their job and satisfied with their work; 77% rated the city as a lively, appealing place to live; and 75% said they are actively involved in their community.

Rental vacancies were found to have gone down nearly 2%, and rental costs decreased by nearly 4%. Almost 1,500 residents received affordable housing this year, and 189 beds for the homeless are slated to be closed in line with the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Of 214 global cities ranked by Mercer’s in their 2011 Cost of Living Survey, Calgary came in at 96, several spots behind Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. However, median family income is shrinking. The average family in Calgary earned over $3,000 less per household in 2009 than it did in 2008, thought its last reported median, $88,410, beat both the provincial ($83,560) and national ($68,410) averages.

Obesity rates are higher in Calgary than in other Canadian hubs, such as Victoria and Toronto, but still come in under the provincial and national averages, which sit just over 18%. Water efficiency has shown improvement since 1999, when the city used a hefty 527 litres. Calgary got that figure down to 406 litres in 2010 and aims to see a further reduction, to 350 litres, by 2033.

While more money was invested in local festivals, film and television, student debt has shown increase since 2009, in excess of the national average. The study cites Alberta as having the third highest tuition fees in Canada. However, Calgary also touts having the third highest high school completion rate: 88%, up from 76.2% in 1990.

In addition to municipal statistics, Vital Signs gives tips to city residents on what they can do to further improve the standard of living/quality of life in their city. These recommendations include donating gently used items to the Women in Need Society; participating in the City of Calgary’s Secondary Suites Program; attaining a membership at the public library; running or biking in a city fundraiser; joining the parent council at your child’s school; practicing yoga to combat stress; cultivating a community garden; and more.

Roughly 1,500 citizens and community partners, including those from government, corporate and charitable sectors, contributed to the survey. Almost 70% of participants identified themselves as females, and 74% said they lived on the west side of the city. The majority of graders fell between the ages of 25 and 64.

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