Whanganui residents rate standard of living highly in annual survey

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25/06/2019 4:00:00 p.m.

25 June 2019

In the annual Community Views Survey undertaken by Whanganui District Council nearly 90 percent of residents surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied with living in Whanganui with just over 80 percent rating their standard of living as good or extremely good.

The survey is conducted annually by Versus Research on behalf of the Council to seek residents’ views on Council services and facilities as well as general perceptions on quality of life, community engagement and well-being.

“The results around satisfaction and standards of living in Whanganui are very pleasing,” says Kirsty Milham, Council Policy Advisor, Research and Engagement.

“These were new questions this year to help us assess how residents feel about living here. Quality of life, sense of belonging and community safety perceptions are key areas where the Council can have an influence.”

Respondents also said they feel very safe in their homes and high numbers believe that their property is safe when they are away. 

Overall, the surveyed residents were most satisfied with Whanganui's parks and reserves, playgrounds, and the maintenance of open spaces.

Kirsty Milham says other results showed a mix of increases and decreases compared with last year’s survey. Some decreases were expected due to known factors - such as the unavailability of the Regional Museum building while it underwent seismic strengthening work.

“This is not wholly unexpected given that the museum building was closed and the museum was operating from the temporary venue in Ridgway Street for the year before the survey period.”

The surveys, alongside other community engagement initiatives, provide important insights to how residents think the Council is doing over time.

“It also helps us to pinpoint areas where there might be gaps in service that need addressing,” says Kirsty Milham.

The 2019 Community Views Survey was undertaken between 25 March and 18 April 2019 and canvassed a total of 500 Whanganui residents. A mixed method approach was used, with both telephone and online interviewing. The margin of error was +/- 4.38%.

Results of the survey were presented at Council’s Strategy and Finance Services Committee meeting on 25 June.

Key survey results

Quality of life

In new questions this year, 89% of residents reported being satisfied (59%) or very satisfied (30%) with living in Whanganui; and 82% rated their standard of living as good (61%) or extremely good (21%). Four percent stated they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with living in Whanganui and 4% rated their standard of living as poor or extremely poor.

Very high numbers (89%) of residents continue to rate their quality of life as the same (67%) or better/much better (22%) than last year. This figure has remained relatively consistent for the last five years.

A wide range of lifestyle benefits were identified, including that Whanganui offers affordable living and a good place to raise a family, as well as the size of, and ability to get around, the city.

Community and cultural

While satisfaction with the cleanliness of the CBD remains high at 81%, it has decreased from last year’s 85%. Residents are also less satisfied (62% vs 71% in 2018) with the contribution the CBD makes to the lifestyle and image of Whanganui this year.

Results in this year’s survey identify several areas for improvement in relation to the CBD. A number of these are likely to come to fruition as part of the Council’s Town Centre Regeneration project.

Visiting libraries remains the most popular cultural activity and they continue to have very high user satisfaction at 89%.

The percentage of residents who visited the Museum has declined this year (25% vs 34% 2018). Satisfaction with the museum also declined (59% vs 65% 2018). The decline in the number of residents who have visited the Museum and satisfaction with the Museum is not wholly unexpected given that the museum building was closed and the museum was operating from the temporary venue in Ridgway Street for the year before the survey period.

Significantly more residents were satisfied with Public Art this year (67% vs 62% in 2018).

Parks, recreation and property

Very few residents (4%) reported not taking part in any recreational activity or visiting any recreational facility. This is a slight reduction on last year (5%). Parks and Reserves continue to receive the highest level of satisfaction for a facility provided by the Council from respondents at 82%. Satisfaction with playgrounds has significantly improved on previous years.

The Whanganui River Walkway and walkways in general were down compared to last year (73% vs 83% in 2018). However, there was a slight increase in the use of cycleways this year (31% vs 29% in 2018).

Work continues to improve pathways and develop connections between them, which is expected to result in greater use of walkways in future years.

Page reviewed: 25 Jun 2019 4:00pm