Cost of living, housing issues top concerns for region’s residents, survey finds

Cost of living, housing issues top concerns for region’s residents, survey finds

The cost of living and lack of affordable housing are the most pressing issues for people in Greater Victoria, according to the 13th annual Victoria Foundation Vital Signs Survey.

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Housing was given a C– , the lowest mark given among 12 key issues identified by about 1,797 capital region residents.

Respondents said efforts to increase affordability and reduce homelessness, new housing created through development and diversity of housing options are all things to celebrate. But they saw a need to address affordability of both rental and home ownership and the lack of alternative housing options, such as co-housing or housing co-ops.

Cost of living was ranked by 49 per cent as the most important issue facing Greater Victoria.

That was follwed by:

• housing, 41 per cent

• transportation, 25 per cent

• mental illness, 21 per cent

• health care, 21 per cent

• homelessness, 19 per cent

• municipal amalgamation, 12 per cent

• community planning/development, 12 per cent

• climate change, 11 per cent

• elder care, 10 per cent

• child care, nine per cent

• environmental stewardship, eight per cent

Residents gave slightly higher marks for the standard of living and transportation categories — C+ for both.

Residents said affordability options need to be improved, a living wage should be adopted and more supports are needed from poverty to workforce.

They called for investment in light rail or rapid transit, regional co-ordination of transportation infrastructure and improvements in bus service and affordability.

Highest marks were given for arts and culture, and sports and recreation in the capital region, which both received a B+.

According to those surveyed, capital region residents should celebrate the vibrant arts and culture community and its diverse offerings, the strong festival scene, and performing arts.

Improvement is needed in providing more affordable arts and cultural activities, increasing funding to support arts and culture, and creating more festivals and community celebrations.

Respondents also lauded the plentiful access to sports and recreational facilities, the quality and variety of activity programming for children and adults, and the availability of outdoor recreation options.

Improvements could be made in affordability, access to low-income programs and investments in facilities, they said.

Eighty-five per cent of respondents described themselves as happy; 85 per cent feel supported by loving family, companions or friends; 68 per cent are satisfied with their work and home/life balance; and 74 per cent believe it is likely or very likely they will be living and working in Greater Victoria in 10 years.

Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson said the Vital Signs survey is an acknowledgment of the community’s input.

“People take this survey. They use the report every year. And it’s community engagement for us. It really informs us to do our work better, to connect the philanthropy we have in the foundation to the opportunities and challenges in the community,” said Richardson. “It also informs our donors.”

Vital Signs is a vital tool for the foundation, which supports hundreds of organizations each year, and the charitable sector as a whole.

“It kinds of puts us all on the same page,” Richardson said.

In 2017, the Victoria Foundation granted more than $20 million, bringing the total awarded to more than $196 million since the foundation was established in 1936.

“Vital Signs really makes you feel connected to the community and I think when you’re giving out funds, accountability and transparency is so important. This is the way you can show you’re really listening and engaging in your community.”

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