It’s a first for Canada. The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) today issued a municipal performance report for 31 cities across the country.
The AIMS’ report not only tells us whether we receive good municipal service, but also whether we pay too much for those services. The report grades Canada’s largest cities and capitals based on the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery using a three year average (2005, 2006 and 2007).
“What makes this report unique is that the methodology compares both actual and in context performance,” says AIMS Executive Vice President Charles Cirtwill. “So you can see your city’s performance considering such factors as population and socio-economic status.”
Cirtwill explains that any city with an overall grade of “C+” is considered average. Cities performing above that are doing well. They generally provide you good service at a reasonable price. Cities receiving a lower grade may provide a poor service at a low price, or good service at a high price, or poor service at a high price.
“This is about allowing you to judge the performance of your city,” says Cirtwill. “In the end, only the taxpayer can judge the balance between the services received and the money spent. You may not mind paying a lot of municipal tax to help pay for high-end snow clearing, but to enter that debate you need to be informed. That’s what this performance report does.”
AIMS’ policy analyst Holly Chisholm spent months gathering publicly available information on Canada’s largest cities and capitals. The grade is determined by inputs and outcomes. Inputs cover such things as population, financial history and socio-economic status. The outcomes are the measures where we actually assign grades to cities based on their own performance.
These outcomes include governance and finance, taxation, safety and protection, transportation, environmental health, economic development and recreation and culture*. The full explanation of what is included under each measure is found in the guide to the National Municipal Performance Report on the AIMS website (www.aims.ca/acedoc) or by following this link.
The complete AIMS’s National Municipal Performance Report is available on the AIMS website at
For further information, contact:
Bobby O’Keefe, AIMS Research Manager
902-222-0944 or 902-429-1143 ext. 226
*Governance & Finance examines the basic operations of city hall. The efficiency indicators include: operating costs for expenditures such as salaries and other administrative costs such as supplies and electricity; examining the city’s long term debt; and user fees as a proportion of own source revenue. The effectiveness indicators used are the population per councillor and the population per city employee.
focuses on city taxes, both residential and non-residential, and asks the question how large is the city’s tax burden and is it growing or shrinking? The effectiveness measures for this outcome focus on how large the property tax base is and if it is growing or shrinking.
Safety & Protection
examines the efficiency of spending on policing and fire services and if these expenditures are increasing or decreasing as well as the effectiveness of providing residents with police and fire services. Effectiveness measures include monetary loss caused by fires (calculating the per fire loss as a measure of the efficiency and response time of the fire department) and change in crime rate.
efficiency measures how much is spent providing and maintaining streets, roads, sidewalks, lighting, etc. To assess the effectiveness of transportation services we focus on road quality and citizen satisfaction.
examines the operating costs for the provision of drinking water, wastewater (sewage) and the management of solid waste (garbage/recycling/compost collection and disposal). It also examines the average charges for municipal water and sewer. To determine the effectiveness of a city’s environmental health services three measures were used: the number of boil water advisories issued; the percent of water tests that contain bacteria; and the number of times the wastewater mains became blocked and needed to be cleared.
indicators focus on expenditures for planning and zoning, development, and heritage activities. This category uses the value of construction, number of new immigrants, and change in population to assess the effectiveness of economic development service.
For Recreation & Culture, recreation expenditures include services and facilities such as swimming pools and walking trails, while culture covers libraries and non-sporting events. To determine how effective the city’s recreation and cultural services are the following indicators were employed: square metres of indoor recreation and cultural space; square metres of outdoor recreation and cultural space; and the kilometres of trails.