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.