A new study of Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim communities reveals that First Nations are the most rooted residents within the region although the majority of people, regardless of native status, intend to reside here for the long term.

Clayoquot Community Survey
Ecotrust Canada commissioned McAllister Opinion Research to conduct a survey of Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim residents in late 2008/early 2009. The main purpose of the research is to gain a richer understanding of local communities to better inform our efforts and outreach in the region. The random sample survey of 303  residents has a margin of error of ±5.1%, 19 times out of 20.  Click here to read about the survey’s methodology.

Clayoquot Communities Map
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Survey Contents
Click the links to read other details and results.

According to a survey conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada, 71 percent of Ahousat and 62 percent of residents in other First Nation communities have lived in the region their entire lives. That contrasts with only 13 percent in Tofino and 14 percent in Ucluelet.

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 and other First Nation communities including Itatsoo, Hot Springs Cove, Esowista and Opitsat. The survey was conducted between December 2008 and March 2009.

Ecotrust Canada will be 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.

The first part in the series focuses on the demographics and roots of the communities on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The survey found that, overall, 42 percent of Clayoquot Sound residents have lived in the area their entire lives—or for at least 20 years. Thirty-two percent have lived in the region between six and 20 years, and 25 percent of residents have lived in the region for no more than five years.

The survey also found that a substantial number of both native and non-native residents intend to remain in the area for the long term (86 and 72 percent, respectively). However, those First Nations who did not attend university indicated a greater likelihood to remain living in the area in the next ten years compared to non-First Nations with similar educational levels.

Women are far more likely to move away from the West Coast of Vancouver Island. According to the survey, 29 percent of women expect to live outside of the Clayoquot region within 10 years time, compared to 16 percent of men. Similarly, 31 percent of young people under 34 years of age in the region as a whole and 35 percent of older adults (55+) in Ucluelet—more than in any other community—say they plan to move out of the region in 10 years time.  

Of those residents who say that they will move from the area, 39 percent do not provide a reason. Of those who do give a reason, 12 percent mention family as the primary motivating factor, followed by 11 percent who say education, another 11 percent who mention employment, and 10 percent who are concerned about the affordability of living within Clayoquot Sound. Among First Nations—especially women—the top reason for leaving is the pursuit of better education opportunities.

Top Ten List

When asked to name what they like best about living in the Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim area, 65 percent of residents mention the outdoors and the natural beauty of the region. Forty-six percent say the people and the small-town atmosphere, whereas 17 percent say they enjoy the peace and quiet.

Residents of Tofino (85 percent) are more likely than those in other communities to mention the outdoors as the main reason they like living in Clayoquot Sound. They are also more likely to mention people, community, or small town living (64 percent).

Ahousat residents are the most likely to mention family and friends (33 percent), fishing, hunting, or seafood (20 percent), as well as the local wildlife (10 percent).

Interestingly, 49 percent of Ucluelet respondents did not say what they like best about living in the Clayoquot-Pacific Rim region and seventeen percent of non-Ahousat First Nations did not answer this question either. This is compared with only three percent of Tofino respondents and only one percent of all Ahousat respondents.

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 quality of life within the communities of Clayoquot Sound.

Please comment on the survey findings. See the comment box below.