Calgarians have highest quality-of-life satisfaction, poll finds

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

If you live in Calgary, you are one happy cowpoke these days.

And if you're chillin' on Kits Beach in Vancouver, likewise.

Pollster Angus Reid says Calgarians and Vancouverites reported the highest satisfaction in their quality of life in a survey done earlier this month.

Some 87 per cent of Calgarians in the poll said they were satisfied, followed by Vancouver at 82 per cent.

So Prime Minister Stephen Harper may not have been far off this week when he praised his adopted home town (he's a son of Etobicoke, Ont.) as the best city in Canada.

The remark, repeated in two speeches during the Calgary Stampede, set critics' tongues clucking.

"Toronto is my hometown," interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told the National Post, but added, "Now that I am a national leader all of Canada is my home."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, born in Ottawa but now a Montrealer, likewise refused to play favourites.

"I want to work hard for all Canadian cities," he said, taking Harper's understandable pander to the hometown crowd a little too seriously " 'I'm better than you' is not the best way to get results."

It's unlikely residents of Canada's other big cities took Harper's remark to heart.

Residents of all four of Canada's major cities were pretty happy. Toronto didn't trail Vancouver by much, punching in at 80 per cent, while in Montreal, despite months of street protests, concerns about corruption and crime, 75 per cent of those polled said they were satisfied with the quality of their lives.

The poll was commissioned by CityAge Media's Innovation City summit being held in Toronto July 18-19, the Globe and Mail reported.

The general satisfaction people expressed in the poll doesn't mean residents didn't have concerns about issues affect quality of life in their cities.

While real estate prices in Vancouver have softened recently, fully one-third of poll respondents in the city rated the lack of affordable housing as the most important problem, followed by homelessness and poverty (14 per cent) and traffic and transit (11 per cent).

For Calgarians, healthcare and hospitals edged traffic/transit as the top concern, 23 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.

Some 32 per cent of Torontonians put traffic/transit at the top of the list, at 32 per cent, followed by crime, violence and gang problems and unemployment at 13 per cent each.

[Related: Vancouver once again Canada's most traffic-congested city]

In Montreal, a quarter of residents polled named healthcare and hospitals their prime concern, with traffic and transit at 15 per cent.

Calgarians were most satisfied with their municipal government, with 62 per cent of respondents saying it does a good or very good job.

The other cities trail far behind, with Vancouver coming in at 42 per cent, Toronto 28 per cent and Montreal 22 per cent. Two-thirds of Montrealers believe their civic leaders are doing a bad or very bad job.

Some 90 per cent of Calgarians saw their home as a city on the rise, compared with 70 per cent in Vancouver, 60 per cent in Toronto and only 41 per cent in Montreal.

Residents' allegiance to their cities was also strong, outweighing identification with their home provinces.

In Vancouver, 80 per cent of respondents said Vancouverite best expressed who they are, versus 20 per cent opting to be identified as British Columbia.

In Cowtown, three-quarters of those polled called themselves Calgarians first, while 87 per cent Torontonians put their city first.

A majority of Montrealers also opted to identify first with their city, but the percentage was lowest at 59.

Angus Reid Public Opinion polled roughly 400 adults online in each city from July 9-11. It attached a plus or minus 4.9 per cent margin of error to the survey.