The Impacts of the Urban Futures Survey

A third version of the Urban Futures Survey will be launched later this month (January 2012).  While we are fine-tuning the questions, we wanted to share with you some of the results of the earlier surveys.  Here are a few of the impacts from the 1990 survey:


Impacts of the 1990 Urban Futures Survey

The 1990 “Urban Futures Survey” was one of the preliminary steps in a larger project undertaken by the GVRD named the “Choosing our Futures” program. The Choosing our Future program was the hunt for answers to create a more livable Greater Vancouver Regional District. This program set up long-term goals and direction for Metro Vancouver.

The 1990 Urban Future Survey provided invaluable data about the feelings and thoughts of the population of the GVRD. Changes that have come about entirely thanks to the Choosing our Future (CoF) and Urban Futures Survey (UFS) programs are  many, andthey are important to the quality of life we now enjoy. The changes occurred primarily in 4* different areas; these areas are:


Maintaining a healthy environment

Some of the environmental changes that came about thanks to the Choosing our Futures program include:the required use of water conserving plumbing in all new developments; mandatory buffer strips next to all bodies of water; the encouragement of low water use plant material in all public and private landscaping plans; and the establishment of a municipal hazardous waste disposal program for items such as batteries.

All municipalities had curbside recycling programs by 1991 thanks—in part—to the Choosing our Futures program and the Urban Futures Survey. The largely successful “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” program came about thanks to Choosing our Future; one part of a larger Solid Waste Management Plan which gives priority to waste reduction and recycling to reduce the need for disposal by incineration and landfill. The program also gave encouragement to municipalities to incorporate urban forests in their future urban planning; including the two trees planted for every one cut down policy.  These are but a few select examples of dozens of environmental changes that occured based, in part, on the data acquired by the 1990 Urban Futures Survey.


Conserving our Land Resources

The Urban Futures Survey conveyed the public’s feelings toward the environment and land use; the data showed a strong support for creating regulations and policies to help protect our bountiful wilderness and green space. Some of the changes related to conserving land resources include the establishment of an Urban Containment Policy that identifies Greater Vancouver’s “Green Line” beyond which urban development will not be allowed and that defines the region’s “Green Zone”. (see 2011 picture) Many policies related to the encouragement and support of public transit also came about thanks to the Urban Futures Survey’s data showing a large support for public transit and alternative methods of transportation to the private automobile.


Serving a Changing population

The demographics of the GVRD were changing rapidly in 1990, and they have not slowed down whatsoever since then. Just as now their population was aging rapidly and a third of residents were born outside of Canada. The UFS and CoF encouraged the GVRD to Increase its ability to undertake regional social policy research, inter-municipal policy coordination and advocacy with senior levels of government in such areas as affordable housing, race relations, poverty, family services, children’s issues, disability issues and services for the aging.


Maintaining the Regions Economic Health

The Urban Futures Survey’s data helped to chart the economic path that the GVRD has taken over the years, and the path has been highly successful on the world stage. The Choosing our Future program incorporates the UFS data in its goals to “Help to create a supportive and globally competitive climate for economic change and growth with particular attention to transportation, tourism, and export-oriented business services and technology-based manufactured products.” (Choosing our Future – 1993 edition)


* Note: “Managing our Region” was a fifth area identified for major change in the Choosing our Future program, however the Urban Futures Survey was not heavily involved in the decisions or data gathering of this aspect of CoF.

Sources: Creating our Future: Steps to a more Livable Region (1993, 1990)

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