Politicians, planners and policy makers can now be informed by forty years of comparative data on the changing attitudes of residents in the Metro Vancouver region thanks to the release today of the results of the 2012 Urban Futures Survey. The Technical Report results can be downloaded here (pdf | 3.6 MB).
This is the third in a series of geographically specific research studies that measures a number of issues important to residents across the Lower Mainland. Previous surveys conducted in 1973 and 1990 informed the Livable Region Plan and the Choosing our Future program. The 2012 survey updates and enhances the information available about public attitudes and experiences of the population over three points in time.
“I am not aware of any other urban region that has an extensive body of comparable information such as this available to aid the decision-making process.” says Ken Cameron, former Manager of Policy and Planning for the GVRD (Metro Vancouver). Cameron was involved in the 1990 survey as well as the 2012 version. “The Vancouver region’s success in becoming one of the most livable regions in the world was accomplished through concerted efforts of regional and local governments over many years, decades, in fact.” he said. “It is invaluable to have comparable data spanning nearly 40 years that can tell us what has changed—and not changed—in public opinion as the region has grown. The earlier surveys had an important impact on transportation and environmental policies, and the 2012 survey will undoubtedly offer a rich resource of information to planners and policy makers looking to the future”.
A unique aspect of the Technical Report is the comparison it provides with the results of earlier surveys. For example, provision of health care ranked 3rd in 1990 and 9th in 1973, while air pollution from industry was the top concern in both earlier surveys. This reflects the concerted action by government to improve air quality in the intervening years. Similarly, while preserving the natural environment was the most important priority for action in the earlier surveys, by 2012 it had dropped to 4th place, a result that could be attributed to efforts by government to improve water quality through upgraded waste water treatment, to give priority to solid waste reduction and recycling and to protect the region’s working landscape through creating the Green Zone.Metro Vancouver, PlaceSpeak, survey, Technical Report, Urban Futures Survey, Urban Futures Survey 2012
PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick, shown with colleagues Yuri Artibise, left, and Justen Harcourt, said the Urban Futures survey is ‘again echoing or cementing what we know about the region’s perceptions about transportation.’
Health care, transportation top regional concerns
Urban Futures Survey shows shift away from pollution, crimeBy Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun April 22, 2013
Air pollution was a huge worry for Metro Vancouver in the 1970s and early 1990s, but health care and traffic congestion have taken over as bigger concerns, according the latest Urban Futures survey released today.
The 2012 regional survey, which replicates two surveys in 1973 and 1990, found health care was the most pressing challenge among 1,407 people surveyed, followed by traffic congestion, homelessness and increasing housing supply.
Air and water pollution, which held first and second place in 1973 and 1990, fell to fifth and sixth place last year. Concerns about crime also fell from No. 4 in 1972 to 11 last year.
Ken Cameron, director of PlaceSpeak, a new start-up that provides a virtual consultation forum, said the results reflect the work that’s been done in the past 40 years to address the earlier concerns, as well as highlight what’s needed to deal with rising issues like health care and transportation.
Health care had been ranked ninth on the priority list in 1973 and third in 1990. The survey suggests the change in ranking may reflect in part the aging population, as well as concerns over reliable service delivery.
“Health care may be a function of aging population but it’s seen as a critical need,” Cameron said. “I’ve got the feeling people are feeling the health care system is under stress.”
Traffic congestion has also become a bigger issue — rising from sixth and seventh respectively in the 1973 and 1990 surveys — as a result of public policy to emphasize transit, walking and cycling over single-occupant vehicles.
But the survey found the significance of those issues varied across the region, and by the age of the respondents.
Those under 35, for instance, were less likely than the older demographic to see health care and transportation infrastructure as critical priorities and were more sensitive to socio-economic difficulties.
Housing supply, which may reflect the difficulty many encounter finding an affordable first home, and homelessness were bigger issues for the under-35 set than for those who were older.
Individual respondents in Vancouver also aren’t as worried as those in the rest of the region about health care, ranking it “fairly consistently as the third most important issue in the region,” behind homelessness and housing, which were generally ranked third and sixth respectively in other municipalities.
Traffic congestion, which was No. 1 in most municipalities except Richmond and the Tri-Cities, was ranked No. 4 in the City of Vancouver.
“Now the emphasis is on transportation in this region,” said PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick, founder of New City Ventures, which is involved in the creation of the PlaceSpeak platform. “Whether it’s TransLink, Metro or the mayors’ council, this is again echoing or cementing what we know about the region’s perceptions about transportation.”
Cameron said the findings likely reflect the fact that people in dense urban centres have more access to transit than those in the suburbs, so they aren’t stuck in traffic as often. But he noted it’s interesting that most respondents said getting to work wasn’t a particular problem, a response that hasn’t changed much in 40 years.
Tags: Colleen Hardwick, Justen Harcourt, Ken Cameron, Metro Vancouver, Mike Harcourt, Traffic congestion, TransLink, Urban area, Vancouver, Vancouver Sun, Yuri Artibise
The high rating for traffic congestion, he suggested, might be explained by an observation that drivers have experienced on non-work trips, or from news media.
“Given the overall interest in relieving traffic congestion, it should be somewhat disconcerting that Metro Vancouver residents have gradually viewed the car as more essential for their sense of freedom,” the survey stated. “Individuals may be less receptive to alternative modes of travel, or existing choices are not effective at meeting their needs.”
Transportation concerns, particularly improving public transit, ranked first and second on the policy question in the survey. Sustainability and environmental issues also ranked high in the survey, which may have influenced the main concern of providing better public transit.
Hardwick said residents should realize this data’s importance.
“I don’t know that people understand that data does affect outcomes,” she said. “They feel disconnected from it, or feel it’s going into a black hole. Certainly in 1990 when we collected that data it did impact outcomes.”
Former Vancouver mayor and B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, chairman of New City Ventures, said the survey is a “gold mine of information to help policy-makers develop deep knowledge of the things that are important to residents of Metro Vancouver and to prepare appropriate responses.”
The survey found also found that most respondents agree with the view that individuals from many cultures enhance the quality of urban life. There was also a noticeable increase in the desirability of living in developed urban areas as well as acceptability of apartment living.
The survey had a margin of error at plus or minus 3.17 per cent 19 times out of 20.
Many of us live in housing conditions that are less than ideal—paying more than we can afford for housing that fails to meet our needs for a safe, healthy and adequate home. The Housing Justice Project—a UBC/Community initiative—is seeking input on the housing experiences of residents in Metro Vancouver.
They want to hear from you, so they are launching a survey at PlaceSpeak. To take the survey please visit:
The survey will give researchers and community activists a clearer understanding of how issues of housing cost and quality affect individuals across the metro region. It will help in the development of better affordable housing policies and strategies.
Please go online to do the survey and help the project by encouraging others to also do the survey.
The Housing Justice Project looks at issues around affordable and adequate housing for all. The Project’s focus is on Vancouver and involves three inter-related themes: public engagement, policy development, and legal advocacy. The project’s principal investigators are Penny Gurstein and Margot Young from the University of British Columbia. Funding for the project has been generously provided by the UBC Peter Wall Solutions Initiative.
For more information on the Housing Justice Project please visit www.housingjustice.ca.
Penny Gurstein and Margot Young, Principal Investigators, email@example.comTags: affordability, Affordable housing, Metro Vancouver, PlaceSpeak, public engagement, UBC, University of British Columbia
This article appeared in the Vancouver Sun on Saturday, November 24, 2012:
Vancouver residents happy with city’s diversity: survey
Fewer than five per cent dispute that ‘people from many cultures contribute to the quality of urban life’
By Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun, November 23, 2012
An overwhelming majority of Vancouver residents think the city’s ethnic diversity makes it a better place to live, according to a new online survey.
Recent census data shows a slim majority of City of Vancouver residents are now non-white and nearly half speak a mother tongue other than English.
But that doesn’t seem to bother Vancouverites, according to an online survey conducted by the research firm PlaceSpeak.
Of more than 750 Vancouver residents surveyed, 91 per cent agreed “people from many cultures contribute to the quality of urban life” and 86 per cent agreed “cultural diversity makes my community a better place to live.”
Fewer than five per cent of residents disagreed with either statement, with the rest saying they were neutral.
The data on ethnic diversity was collected by PlaceSpeak as part of its Urban Futures Opinion Survey, the third in a series of surveys of Metro Vancouver residents conducted over the past 40 years.
The first two surveys — in 1973 and 1990 — were conducted by the regional district. The current survey isn’t being funded by the district, but PlaceSpeak is using similar questions as the last two in order to compare how attitudes on various economic and social issues have changed over time.
PlaceSpeak is hoping to have about 2,000 people fill out the survey before the end of the year, with a representative sample from each Metro Vancouver municipality.
So far, about 1,400 people have taken part, and PlaceSpeak has already reached its target number of respondents in Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver District.
However, it still needs a lot more people from other cities to participate, particularly those from Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond and Coquitlam.
PlaceSpeak is a website that helps municipalities and others conduct public consultations online rather than solely through public hearings.
Residents first register with PlaceSpeak and verify their location. Once registered, they can participate in any municipal consultations that affects their neighbourhood as well as in region-wide questionnaires like the Urban Futures survey.
Colleen Hardwick, founder and CEO of PlaceSpeak, said getting people from Vancouver and New Westminster to participate in the survey has been easier because many residents of those two cities registered as part of earlier public consultations.
Those wishing to participate in the survey can sign up online at placespeak.com/urbanfuturessurvey.
PlaceSpeak estimates the survey takes about 22 minutes to complete. In addition to English, the survey is also available in traditional and simplified Chinese.
The Vancouver Sun will report on some of the survey’s findings in the spring.
In the meantime, PlaceSpeak provided The Sun with a sneak peek at some of the data from respondents in the City of Vancouver.
In addition to the data on ethnic diversity, the survey provides other insights into what people in Vancouver are thinking. More than two-thirds of Vancouver residents surveyed said they support off-leash dog parks, with only one in 10 being opposed.
The survey also found clear majorities of Vancouverites surveyed supported higher gas taxes (76 per cent), bridge tolls (69 per cent) or vehicle licensing fees (66 per cent) to help pay for public transit.
In contrast, they were less enthusiastic about using higher property taxes (49 per cent) or transit fares (49 per cent) to fund transit services.
First conducted in 1973 and again in 1990, The Urban Futures Survey has been a legendary force behind the development of Metro Vancouver into the city it is today.
The citizen feedback harvested from those surveys helped leaders reject freeways through the centre of the city, launch garbage recycling and adopt the Zero Waste Strategy—and those are just a few examples.
Rounds One and Two of the Urban Futures Survey were conducted by Dr. Walter Hardwick and used by politicians such as Mayor (and Premier) Mike Harcourt and city planners such as Alan Artibise.
Now, it’s time for Urban Futures Survey: The Next Generation. And at 9:30 on Friday, November 2, the actual next generation Hardwick, Harcourt and Artibise will be on the Bill Good Show talking about Round 3, in which the survey is entirely online and interactive.
The 2012 survey uses the online public consultation software called Placespeak, developed by Dr. Hardwick’s daughter Colleen Nystedt, along with Yuri Artibise, Alan’s son, and Justen Harcourt, son of the former Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of BC.
Who: Colleen Nystedt, Yuri Artibise, Justen Harcourt
What: The Urban Futures Survey 2012
Where: The Bill Good Show CKNW – AM 980 radio
When: 9:30 a.m. Friday November 2, 2012
If you would like to interview any or all of the principals about the third edition of this legendary urban survey, please contact:
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