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The mythical well-run city of Edmonton

Edmonton’s website is full of amusing stories. I’m not being in the least bit sarcastic.

Edmonton’s website is full of amusing stories. I’m not being in the least bit sarcastic. The information it contains can really make you laugh.

An October 2008 posting about the 2009 budget states: “According to the annual Citizen Satisfaction Survey of 800 Edmontonians, 73 per cent say they are satisfied with city services and 89 per cent rate their quality of life as good and excellent.”

That statement should at least make you smile. I’m not surprised that 89 per cent rate their quality of life between good and excellent. The survey was conducted in 2008 and things seemed pretty good all round until the mid-part of the year. What made me chuckle though was the realization that, somehow or other, the city poobahs think that they are major contributors to that positive quality of life rating.

I would have thought that having a job, being healthy and having more money are far greater determinants of quality of life than the city’s real or imagined efforts to run this city well. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe most people do rate their quality of life based on emergency, transit, and pet services as the posting implies. Who’da thunk it?

What made me laugh out loud, however, was the assertion that 73 per cent of those surveyed are satisfied with city services. That doesn’t match up with comments from the Edmontonians I know. Maybe I know a lot of negative people, but they are unhappy with road clearing in the winter, sidewalk repair, road maintenance, and their ever-increasing civic tax bill. But stats are stats. Or are they?

You might have noticed that the posting talks about a survey of Edmontonians, not a survey of home owners. The survey appears to include renters as well. Home owners see a tax bill each year and renters do not. Home owners who receive a $2,000 tax bill and then get stuck on an uncleared street are probably not as satisfied as the city would like to make out. When their taxes go up again next year, I suspect they will be even less satisfied.

So the next time you’re in need of some amusement, look around the city’s website. It’s full of humorous stories about a mythical well-run city called Edmonton. And as the budget posting illustrates, you can also find amazing fairy tales to read.

– Terence Harding is a corporate communicator. He’s a keen observer of all things Edmonton; edmontonletters@metronews.ca.

 
 
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