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Quality of life continues to decline, according to Londoners

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There’s no sugar coating the results of an annual survey of Londoners conducted on behalf of city hall.

According to telephone interviews with 507 adults living in London, more and more report their “quality of life” has declined.

Specifically, 75 per cent of respondents rated their quality of life as “good” or “very good.”

In 2018, that figure stood at 92 per cent.

The local results are below the 79 per cent average score based on survey results from 11 municipalities across Canada.

In London, the most common responses given for a poor quality of life were the high cost of living and homelessness.

“I'm not surprised by the trend,” admitted Mayor Josh Morgan. “When you look at people saying quality of life and affordability are challenges. Those are things I feel too. I went to the grocery store last night. It’s frustrating.”

Most Londoners, 55 per cent, now rank homelessness as the greatest “top of mind issue” in the city.

High interest rates (17 per cent) and traffic/road congestion (16 per cent) ranked second and third.

Back in 2018, transportation topped the list followed by development/infrastructure.

At that time, poverty and economics were each top of mind for just four per cent of Londoners.

The mayor pointed out that city hall had greater influence over the top issues of the past, “Affordability and homelessness, these are things that one level of government can not tackle on its own. Especially when the underlying concerns about affordability and quality of life seem to be linked to cost of living and inflation, things we have no control over.”

The annual survey lands on councillors’ desks as they prepare to enter multi-year budget season.

It’s anticipated that new spending requests will far exceed the available dollars, making the 2024-2027 municipal budget a challenge to balance.

“Getting this right is absolutely critical to the quality of life in this city,” explained the mayor. “[It’s] why public engagement is really key.”

Satisfaction with the delivery of city services has followed a similar trend as quality of life, declining from 91 per cent in 2018 to 72 per cent this year.

However, the report also advised, "More residents would prefer for the city to increase taxes (50 per cent of respondents) than cut services (37 per cent)."

“It’s going to cost money, but we know affordability is a concern, so how much do you want us to spend? Where do you want us to focus? These are the discussions that are going to occur over the next months,” Morgan told CTV News.

The draft 2024-2027 municipal budget will be released on Dec. 12.

Public input sessions will be held over several weeks leading up to council deliberations in February.

The telephone survey (cell and landline) was conducted by Forum Research Inc. on behalf of city hall between Oct. 5 and Oct. 21.

It has a margin of error of +/- 4.35 per cent.

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