News : Calgary 311 Call Centre Gets More Requests from Inner-city Wards Than Others
Calgary, AB, Canada, Jan 27, 2016 -- A bone of contention is one thing — but it seems Calgary’s inner city wants to pick apart the entire corpse.
According to the city’s monthly tally of service requests, 2015 was another banner year for bellyaching and attention seeking by people living closest to the core, with 311 calls from three wards absolutely dominating all others.
Those living in the Wards 7, 8 and 9, take a dubious bow — you’ve caused more work for city staff than any other ward in Calgary, with 311 requests in the busiest inner-city neighbourhoods outpacing the rest of the Calgary by as much as three calls to one.
From ice and snow complaints to gripes over trees, signs and graffiti, the wards containing communities like Renfrew, the Beltline and Crescent Heights are leaving the rest of the city in the dust — and yes, they’ve complained about dirt and dust, too, dialing reports of messy yards, vacant lots and the like.
If you live in one of the fussy precincts, you’ll probably view the matter differently, and may even see the sheer volume of 311 calls as a matter of civic pride.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra certainly does, and Carra says a large part of that call volume comes down to citizen engagement, which he feels is most extreme in the inner city.
"As we build our city towards complete communities, and that’s happening fastest in the inner city, the people living there are becoming more actively involved and we are driving them to become hyper-engaged in their community," says Carra.
Carra believes they call because they care.
"As well, you might have people feeling a sense of panic, because these are neighbourhoods on the cusp of change," he adds.
In other words, Calgary’s inner city neighbourhoods are vigilant because so much is changing and people are fighting hard to make it even better, while the long-term residents might just be griping because of all the strange, new activity.
Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a whole lot of really nosey neighbours.
Either way, it does seem that newer communities and the gentrified areas of the older city are places most likely to have 311 on the speed dial, with Bowness, Altadore and Hillhurst demanding more than a typical share of service.
Of course, many calls to the city are from new homeowners dealing with property taxes and garbage service and the like, as in the case of Evanston and Auburn Bay, but such requests for service are shared throughout the city.
It’s actual complaints that appear to drive much of the Ward 7, 8 and 9 traffic.
Coun. Ward Sutherland sits in both worlds, with a lot of suburbs in Ward 1, as well as large swath of old community anchored by Bowness.
Not surprisingly, Bowness dominates the 311 file, but he says that’s a matter of awareness, and as the area politician, he makes a point of letting his constituents know what the top concerns are, based on requests for service.
"I don’t think the level of engagement is any less outside of the inner city," he said.
Maybe not, but with three wards placing way more calls to the city than any other, it’s always worth pointing out that each of those calls costs money, from the smallest question to a full-scale bylaw investigation involving your neighbour’s barking dog.
At a time when the suburbs of Calgary have been accused of costing the city too much in terms of added infrastructure, it’s only fair that the peaceful, seemingly satisfied folks in those far-flung communities know they’re not the only ones using up tax dollars in this town.
Grumbling and demanding attention isn’t free when there’s a city government involved — and in Calgary, the lion’s share of that funding is going to just three central wards.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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