(Map of 311 service calls tied to addresses in 2011, by electoral ward. Click on a ward for more info)

Who calls 311?

What kind of workload is your city councillor facing every day?

Which areas of the city appear to need the most help in terms of access to services?

Can we accurately say that 311 calls suggest anything about a councillor’s workload?

These are questions I began to ask myself after a recent story about City Hall changing rules for adding new electoral wards.

Some say population growth should determine where any possible new wards should go. And, judging by the city’s own administration, population is the yardstick by which they go on to figure this out.

But others, including Coun. Harvey Smith, say that population alone doesn’t indicate who’s calling for services.

From my Jan. 13 story (it didn’t make it online for some reason…)

Smith provided the Winnipeg Sun with a list of 311 service calls from the month of December to illustrate his point.
The city-wide list shows that people living in the oldest — and poorest — wards made roughly three times the number of calls to 311 than those living in the wealthiest.
In that month, residents of the Mynarski and Daniel McIntyre wards (these include the St. Johns, William Whyte and West End areas) called 829 and 715 times respectively. The averaged average income between the two wards is $24,201.
People living in the relatively affluent Charleswood-Tuxedo and St. Charles areas made a respective 234 and 218 calls — the fewest in the city. Here, the averaged average income between the two areas is $42,892.

As it turns out, these findings weren’t just a blip on the December radar — they were consistent throughout the year, sometimes alarmingly so.

Over 2011 — calls for 311 service associated with a property broke down like this:

Mynarski and Daniel Mac (combined) = 30,250

Charles-Tuxedo and St. Charles (combined) = 10,852

That’s a nearly 3:1 ratio of call disparity between the poorest and most affluent areas of the city.

As well, I find it interesting to look at the number of “overdue” calls  to 311 left over from the year.

One thing that can’t be said (based on the above data) is the poorer wards don’t get their calls answered to.

Mynarski, Daniel Mac and Point Douglas boast very low numbers of “overdue” calls.

St. Boniface and St. Vital have the highest (although still a very low number based on overall numbers)

What’s above is basically all the data I was able to get from the city. What I have doesn’t break down the kind of calls for service they are, but for that, we can head to Servicestat to break this down a bit. (Let’s take Mynarski and St. Charles — poor and rich — as an example)

In Mynarski, the top three 311 calls were based around overflowing AutoBins, potholes and graffiti. (1,932 calls combined)

In St. Charles, the most calls were for potholes, snow clearing from roads and missed garbage collection. (735 calls combined)

It’s simplistic, and completely unscientific, but the near 3:1 ratio again applies.

More later when I’ve had time to think on this a bit more.

Let me know what you think.

Note: thanks to the good folks at Winnipegelection.ca for providing an “open data” section on their still-functioning site. I was able to download the council ward data mask into Google maps and have the above map built in about 10 minutes. Invaluable. 

Thanks as well to Steve West from the city.

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