Most residents of Clayoquot Sound love the area's natural beauty and small-town atmosphere and see themselves living here for the long-term. However, quality of life varies significantly between Aboriginal communities and Ucluelet/Tofino and all residents generally rate economic and educational opportunities poorly.
Clayoquot Community Survey
Clayoquot Communities Map
That is the finding of a new study conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada, an organization working to build the conservation economy in BC's coastal bioregion. The organization has an office in Tofino and Vancouver, and has been working in Clayoquot Sound for more than a decade.
The Clayoquot Community Survey asked residents to rate specific aspects of their communities as excellent, good, average, not great or poor. Overall, three out of four residents reported that their quality of life is excellent (30 percent) or good (46 percent).
Tofino residents scored the highest (88 percent) followed by Ucluelet (80 percent). In contrast, First Nations were remarkably less satisfied with their overall quality of life. Only 47 percent of Ahousat residents and 49 percent of other First Nation communities, including Hot Springs Cove, Esowista, Opitsat and Itatsoo gave their quality of life a positive rating.
The random sample survey of 303 residents has a margin of error of 5.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Interviews were conducted with residents in Tofino, Ucluelet, Ahousat, Itatsoo, Hot Springs Cove, Esowista and Opitsat. The survey was conducted between December 2008 and March 2009.
Ecotrust Canada is releasing results of the survey, which focuses on the region's sustainability and liveability, in a ten-part series of articles and blog postings over the next several weeks. Ecotrust Canada's purpose is to build the conservation economy in BC's coastal bioregion. The organization has offices in Tofino and Vancouver, and has been working in Clayoquot Sound for more than a decade.
According to the Ecotrust/McAllister survey, First Nations women are far more likely to rate their quality of life as good or excellent (61 percent) than are First Nations men (42 percent) and having a college or university education and/or being retired is also highly correlated with a positive rating for quality of life.
Many residents (68 percent) rate their social lives within the region as positive (that is, good or excellent). Ahousat (75 percent) and Tofino (76 percent) residents are the most likely to rate social life positively compared to other First Nations communities outside of Ahousat (59 percent) and those residents of Ucluelet (58 percent). Throughout Clayoquot, adults under 25 and women 55 years and up, represent the two most likely groups to rate their social lives in positive terms.
The majority of residents (60 percent) report that they feel connected to their community, which along with quality of life, can be taken as a proxy for overall happiness.
When it comes to economic opportunities, local government and social services, however, many residents of Clayoquot Sound are not so satisfied.
Only one in four residents rate jobs and economic opportunities positively. Tofino residents (42 percent) rated their economic prospects significantly better than Ucluelet and Ahousat (both 13 percent) and other First Nations (14 percent).
Twenty-four percent of all residents rate their local community government positively. Residents of Ucluelet (40 percent) are most likely to rate local government as excellent or good, whereas fewer than half of that number share this view in Tofino (19 percent), Ahousat (14 percent) or other First Nation communities (9 percent).
Health care services are rated as excellent or good by only 22 percent of all residents. Ahousat residents gave the best rating of local health care services, with 38 percent rating them positively, followed by Tofino with 25 percent.
Only one in five residents rate the quality of local schools positively, with parents of children aged 12 or younger giving the worst ratings. Twenty-eight percent of Ahousat, 30 percent of other First Nations, and 23 percent of Ucluelet residents rate schools as good or excellent compared to only 12 percent of those living in Tofino.
Approximately one third (36 percent) of all residents believe that 10 years from now, quality of life will be better in their community than it is today. Another one third (33 percent) believe that quality of life is better in their community today than it was 10 years ago. This is particularly true of those living in Ahousat: 33 percent believe that the quality of life is better today and 42 percent believe that it will be even better in a decade.
Ecotrust Canada commissioned the Clayoquot Community Survey to gain a richer understanding of the concerns and issues of local communities regarding the region's sustainable development. Next week, Ecotrust Canada will be releasing results on the most important concerns of local communities. The organization will be releasing the results of its survey over the next several weeks.
Please comment on the survey findings. See the comment box below.