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.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: Justen Harcourt, Ken Cameron, Metro Vancouver, Mike Harcourt, PlaceSpeak, transportation, Urban Futures Survey, 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.
From the City of Burbaby website:
December 19, 2012: An opinion survey of Metro Vancouver residents that has helped shape growth in the region seeks participation from Burnaby households.
Visit www.placespeak.com/urbanfuturessurvey by December 31 to take part.Tags: Burnaby, PlaceSpeak, Urban Futures Survey
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.
Three members of the Urban Futures Survey 2012 team will be on the Bill Good Show tomorrow morning (Friday, November 2, 2012) at 9:30 on CKNW AM 980. Colleen Hardwick, Justen Harcourt and Yuri Artibise will be talking with Bill about the creation of PlaceSpeak, the Urban Futures Survey 2012, and the next generation of civic engagement.
This appearance arose—in part—out of last weekend’s profile in the Vancouver Sun that looked that the influence that Justen, Colleen and Yuri’s fathers had on the development of Vancouver and how it influenced their involvement with PlaceSpeak as well as the Urban Futures Survey 2012.
At the end of the interview, there will be an opportunity for listeners to call in and share your answers to the question: “What kind of Vancouver do you want?” We look forward to hearing from you.
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 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:
New online survey platform connects people with local issues
The PlaceSpeak platform arose out of a bid by Hardwick to Urban Futures Opinion Survey 2012, which would be the third in a series of geographically specific studies in 40 years. While the first two surveys — in 1973 and 1990 — were conducted by the regional district, PlaceSpeak will use similar questions to compare the changing attitudes around economic, social, mobility and lifestyle issues across the Lower Mainland.
Some questions have been dropped, such as one about the Canada Line, because the issues have already been resolved, while new issues have been added.
Hardwick said she expects the survey data, slated to be released next spring, will be used by planners to shape the region, just as previous studies created the livable region plan for the Metro today. Residents can also go back to the site to view the other responses and see what’s been done.
“No other region in the world has the same information going back 40 years,” she said. “That data will form part of our collective knowledge.
“Since 1990, the region has changed exponentially. It’s going to be interesting.”
More than 1,240 surveys have already been completed, with high numbers from Vancouver, New Westminster, City of North Vancouver and Bowen Island, while Delta, Port Moody and Pitt Meadows are also represented.
The survey, which takes 22 minutes, can be found here: https://www.placespeak.com/topic/323/urban-futures-survey-2012/
Ian McKinnon, chair of the National Statistics Council and former head of Decima Research, said the new platform will give residents a chance to express their views in a low-key manner while allowing city planners to pinpoint people in a specific neighbourhood when they’re dealing with a new plan.
By narrowing the responses to a particular area, he added, the city can get a better idea of what’s underpinning residents’ concerns.
“Over time you can get used to consulting in a low-key fashion about your preferences, and not waiting until a multi-million-dollar development [is proposed] and lines are entrenched. It certainly gives people an opportunity to respond more systematically than they can now.
“Once people start hearing from friends and neighbours that the feedback is listened to, it’s likely to snowball.”
Hardwick said the idea, which is a personal homage to her father, the late urban geographer Walter Hardwick, who was involved in the earlier surveys and in regional planning initiatives such as False Creek, was born out of the need to consult people in a changing world.
She noted the old ways, such as telephone surveys and door-to-door interviews done in the 1971 survey, aren’t relative today, mainly because many people don’t have landlines and won’t answer the phone or door to strangers. By linking residents’ identity to their address — whole protecting their privacy — she said the data will be verifiable and provide decision makers with “hard data they can point to” when making policy decisions.
You can read the entire article HERE.Tags: PlaceSpeak, Urban Futures Survey 2012, Walter Hardwick
Over the weekend, the Vancouver Sun published an online op-ed piece by former mayor of Vancouver and premier of BC (and PlaceSpeak Board Chair) Mike Harcourt:
Harcourt: What kind of city do we want?
Thanks to public consultation, quality of life in Vancouver has consistently improved over the past decades.
Special to the Sun September 16, 2012
The late 1960s and early 1970s are now widely recognized as a turning point in the history of Vancouver and its region. We decided against freeways in the urban area and in favour of the protection of neighbourhoods such as Strathcona and Chinatown. We decided against ad hoc planning in the backrooms of city halls in favour of open, participatory approaches in which the people have a say in the future of their city. We decided against sprawl and in favour of regionally planned growth that protects agricultural land and provides density and the opportunity for more travel choices.
We can see the results of those decisions around us today: a diverse, dense and livable downtown, the jewel that is False Creek, the regional town centres in Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam, the rapid transit lines that form the skeleton of a regional transportation system and the Green Zone with agricultural land, regional parks and open spaces protected from urbanization. By almost any measure, be it air quality, drinking water quality or water quality in the region’s waterways, environmental quality has improved significantly in Metro Vancouver over the past 40 years. There are few if any urban regions in the world that can say that.
Those decisions took vision and courage. I know — I was there. But we were guided by a unique public opinion survey conducted by the late Dr. Walter Hardwick in 1973. In the Urban Futures Survey, Dr. Hardwick conducted in-depth interviews with a representative sample of households in all parts of the region in which he probed their opinions on a range of subjects as diverse as growth, livability, environmental protection, transportation, social planning, daycare and honesty in government. The survey revealed strong public support for environmental protection, planning, protection of open spaces and a transit-oriented transportation system. This gave us, as decision-makers, the confidence to pursue policies that might have otherwise been dismissed as impractical, utopian or too costly. In short, the survey was an early confirmation of what most of us here in Greater Vancouver want, which is to have our cake and eat it too.
A second turning point came in the late 1980s, when the idea of cooperative planning to protect livability had been eclipsed, after the region’s first real recession, by an obsession with reducing government regulation to spur economic growth. By then, the growth had begun to come back, but there were concerns it was out of control. It seemed entire hillsides were being clearcut and converted from forest to bland, low-density subdivisions almost overnight.
The Board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver), led at that time by Richmond Mayor Gil Blair and Vancouver Mayor Gordon Campbell, launched a public outreach program called “Choosing Our Future,” which included seminars, public meetings and a children’s poster contest, all designed to find out what, in the view of residents, was important for the future of the region. Dr. Hardwick led that program on behalf of the region, and it included a replication of the Urban Futures Survey with many of the questions that had been in the 1973 survey. The idea was to find out what had changed — and equally important, what had not changed — since 1973. To quote the summary of the results published at that time, “Lower Mainland residents still rank as primary concerns the issues of air and water pollution and preservation of the environment — just as they did in 1973. Transportation issues, crime and housing also remain important concerns.”
Once again, this information on public priorities spurred strong action by government at both regional and provincial levels, including AirCare, upgrades to waste water treatment plants and the Livable Region Strategic Plan and Transport 2012, just to name a few. Receptive public opinion underlay two of the decisions of the provincial government that I led of which I am most proud — the doubling of the region’s parkland through the Lower Mainland Nature Legacy and the re-introduction of regional planning legislation guided by my close friend and colleague, Darlene Marzari.
So you see, governments get along better when they know they are doing what the people want. Now we have an opportunity to express our priorities and our vision of the future through a 2012 version of the Urban Futures Survey. With funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, the City of North Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, TransLink and Vancity, the Urban Futures Survey 2012 is being conducted right now, but this time on an online platform through PlaceSpeak, a new consultation tool developed by Dr. Hardwick’s daughter, Colleen.
Conducting the survey online allows you to participate at a time and place that are convenient to you. It takes about 22 minutes, which is considerably less than the previous method took for participants back then. Try it now at http://www.urbanfuturessurvey.com/. Participation in the Urban Futures Survey 2012 offers you a unique opportunity to express your views and your priorities on matters that are important to the future of your region. Participants in the earlier surveys served us well by helping to create the beautiful livable place we enjoy today, but we face many challenges if our future is to be sustainable as well as livable. Now it’s your turn to help us get the city we you want.
You may have heard that PlaceSpeak is helping conduct the Metro Vancouver 2012 Urban Futures Survey. The survey is about transportation, housing, arts and culture, land use, and climate change — the key issues for our region’s world renowned quality of life.
Completing the Urban Futures Survey gives our region the information it needs to plan a better future for you, your family, and your community. I hope you can take 20 minutes to take the survey. You can do so by clicking on this link:
If you are more comfortable reading Chinese, PlaceSpeak has translated the Urban Future into Chinese Traditional text. The Chinese version can be found here:
Chair, PlaceSpeak Board of Directors
Former Premier of British Columbia (1991-1996) and Mayor of Vancouver (1980-1986).
PS: I would really appreciate it if you would help spread the word about this important survey. Please invite your friends and neighbours to take the survey as well. You can also share it on Facebook or Twitter.
Tags: arts and culture, climate change, housing, land use, Metro Vancouver, Mike Harcourt, PlaceSpeak, transportation, urban futures, Urban Futures Survey
This morning, PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick talked with Riaz Meghji from Breakfast Television Vancouver about the Urban Futures Survey. Click on the link or image below to hear how we can all help shape the future of our community.
Note: A brief advertisement will play before the segment beginsTags: CityTV, Colleen Hardwick, media, PlaceSpeak, Urban Futures Survey, Vancouver
The Real Estate Foundation of BC supports sustainable real estate and land use practices for the benefit of British Columbians through its grants program and other initiatives. PlaceSpeak was awarded 1 of the 11 approved grants in June 2011 to develop a third iteration of the Greater Vancouver Urban Futures Survey, which will be conducted online for the first time in its history. The Urban Futures Survey will enhance information available about issues in Greater Vancouver and the views of the public.
Each applicant must be sponsored by a non-profitable organization; PlaceSpeak is honoured to be sponsored by Lambda Alpha International—the honorary society for the advancement of land economics.
The Urban Futures Survey was initially conducted in the early 1970′s. The results of the first survey shaped the preparation of “Creating Our Future” in 1990, British Columbia’s regional agenda for the next decade. Creating Our Future formed the “Livable Region Strategic Plan” and “Transportation 2020″ plans. Colleen Hardwick’s father Walter Hardwick led the Urban Futures Survey which was extremely influential in planning future development in of Greater Vancouver. The results of the third version of this survey will be used to compare with the results of the first 2, as well as learn how citizens feel the future of their province should unfold. PlaceSpeak’s web-based platform will allow this survey to be conducted online. This will enable the 2012 survey to reach a broader demographic of residents than previously possible..
A version of this post originally appeared on the PlaceSpeak blog.Tags: Lambda Alpha International, land economics, livable region strategic plan, Real Estate Foundation, urban futures, Urban Futures Survey