Calgarians are split on perceptions of the city being headed in the right direction, according to a new survey by ThinkHQ Public Affairs.
When asked if Calgary was on the right track or wrong track, 43 per cent of respondents suggested the city was on the wrong track. Thirty-six per cent said the city was on the right track, while 21 per cent said they were unsure.
The survey of 1,237 Calgarians, conducted via research panel from Sept. 8 to 12, has a typical margin of error of 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20 if done as a probability-based randomized sample.
That means the right track, wrong track views are virtually even.
Sentiment doesn’t favour Calgary incumbents
ThinkHQ president Marc Henry said with a municipal election in October 2021, the sentiment doesn’t bode well for current councillors.
“We’re 364 days from the election and there are still a lot of unknowns, but it has the potential to one of the more interesting municipal campaigns in recent memory,” Henry said.
“What we do know is that voters are not in a particularly hospitable mood at the moment, which generally signals a tougher time for incumbents. There is considerable dissatisfaction about where the city is going today.”
Henry notes that the 2021 election could represent a significant change at city council. A number of candidates have said they won’t seek re-election in their wards.
Demographic divide among responses
The pessimism over Calgary’s direction is more intense with the wrong track side. Nearly 21 per cent of respondents said the city is definitely on the wrong track.
There was also a trend along demographics, the survey pointed out. Right track voters were typically women, those under the age of 35, inner city and northeast residents, newcomers, renters, multi-family building residents and NDP voters.
Those who think the city’s on the wrong track were typically men, those over 55 years-old, affluent, homeowners, long term residency in Calgary and typically UCP voters.
Economic mood was a factor in the survey and could be a major one in the municipal election.
More than eight in 10 believe the economy in Calgary to be weak, according to the survey. Thirty-six per cent said it’s “very weak.”
“If this mood persists, look for issues like spending and finance, economic development and business climate and taxes, fees and levies to be very much top-of-mind concerns for voters in 2021, while traditional municipal issues such as infrastructure, transit, and growth management will take more of a backseat.”