Vital Signs – taking the pulse of Metro Vancouver

Do Metro Vancouver residents think they have a high quality of life? What leads them this conclusion?

The Vancouver Foundation finds out in its annual Vital Signs for Metro Vancouver 2010 report.

Eighty-seven per cent of Metro Vancouver residents agree that our quality of life is good or excellent and 86 per cent think Metro Vancouver is a vibrant, lively and appealing place to live, sentiments that are shared throughout the region.

Surprisingly, it’s not jobs and the economy or education that are responsible for this high rating (although they’re important too).

Instead, what matters most is a strong sense of belonging – really feeling that there is a place for us in our community – and a bond of trust with our neighbours.

The report explores 12 key areas of community life, some of which are summarized here.

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English  or  中国语言

 

Key findings – the GOOD news

Metro Vancouver is known for its vitality and vibrancy. Here are reasons why:

Economy

  • 31% decrease in business bankruptcies since 2005, compared to an increase of 21% in Toronto and 81% in Montreal.
  • 6% of us work 50 hours a week or more. Toronto is 7%.
  • 7% unemployment compared to Montreal and Toronto (both 9%).

Belonging

  • 69% of us feel a very strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging and have strong connections to our community.
  • 64% of us have a bond of trust with our community.
  • 92% of us report we’re happy or somewhat happy.

Health & Wellness

  • 74% of youth regularly exercise.
  • 90% of us feel comfortable cycling on dedicated bicycle routes.
  • 63% of seniors have good health.
  • 11% in the amount our stress has decreased since 2008; 20% of residents find most days stressful, compared to 26% in Toronto.
  • 13% of us smoke, down 21% in one year and a lower rate than Toronto and Montreal.

Safety

  • 12% decrease in acts of violence since 2006.
  • 9% increase in police officers.

Key findings – the BAD news

Metro Vancouver continues to be a model of diversity, but there are major disparities in the lives and well-being of residents. At the top of the list:

Children and Seniors

  • 29% of kindergarten children struggle to meet desired developmental targets for their age.
  • 40% of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society’s clients are children.
  • 48% of seniors have diets lacking the recommended number of fruits and vegetables.

Priorities: More affordable childcare; decrease child poverty; improve seniors’ economic security; offer more affordable independent care housing options.

Housing

  • $1,150 is the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment (in April 2010), up 15% from 2009.
  • $74,700 is the average qualifying income needed to buy a standard condominium.
  • 57% is the drop in 2009 housing starts and only 4% of new homes were rental housing.

Priorities: Make home ownership more affordable; make renting more affordable.

Affordability

  • 17% increase since 2005 in the number of home owners at risk of losing their homes.
  • $68,670 is our median family income, ranking is 21st of 33 Canadian metro areas.
  • 10x is the number that our richest residents earn when compared to the poorest.

Priorities: Make home ownership more affordable; increase minimum wage.

Environmental Sustainability

  • 8% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in last two years.
  • 56% of our waste is diverted from landfills.

Priorities: Improve transit service; reduce reliance on cars; cut down on waste.

Health

20% fewer residents have a family doctor than did in 2007.

Priority: Family physicians for everyone.

How was the report produced?

The report is based on:

  • the results of a statistically relevant survey of 1,200 residents from 21 municipalities done by Environics Research Group;
  • factual information; and
  • residents’ perceptions, grades and priorities.

Making the grade

Residents graded Metro Vancouver in 12 areas grouped into four broad categories.

Here is the report card:

People

Children & Youth: C+

Seniors: C+

Belonging: B-

Place

Getting Around: C

Environment: B-

Safety: C-

Economy

Economy: C

Housing: D

Affordability: D+

Society

Health & Wellness: B

Learning: C+

Arts, Culture & Leisure: B

This information will help the Vancouver Foundation to assist in its grant giving and community leadership activities. Vital Signs is available in English and Chinese. To read the report and the detailed data visit: www.vancouverfoundationvitalsigns.ca

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