Despite challenges accessing broadband Internet, 70 percent of Ahousat residents are members of an online social network like Facebook, much higher than the national average of 56 percent. About 70 percent of Tofino’s population is also on Facebook.
The findings are part of a survey of Clayoquot Sound residents conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada. The Clayoquot Community Survey found a remarkable level of Internet use in the region, especially among the youth. Ninety-one percent of residents under the age of 24 are members of Facebook.
Membership in online communities is highest in Ahousat: 67 percent are members of Bebo, 54 percent Facebook and 26 percent MySpace. By contrast, only 46 percent of Tofino/Ucluelet residents are members of Facebook and a mere two percent have joined Bebo. Ucluelet has the lowest level of social networking activity: 38 percent are members of an online community.
Interestingly, the micro-blogging website known as Twitter, which gained popularity during the U.S. presidential election, has yet to catch on among West Coast residents. Barely two percent of residents are “tweeting,” that is, posting 140-character messages on the social networking website.
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 has been 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 past nine 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 survey found that a large majority of Clayoquot Sound residents (85 percent) have access to the Internet. Seventy-five percent of residents in Tofino and 70 percent in Ucluelet have high-speed Internet. However, broadband or high-speed Internet in remote native communities isn’t widespread: only 18 percent of Ahousat residents have access to a high-speed connection.
Internet use appears to be the most frequent media activity among Clayoquot residents. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) send email or surf the net at least several times a week. In comparison, 66 percent watch television, 59 percent listen to the radio and 39 nine percent visit news websites. Just 36 percent read a newspaper at least several times a week.
Residents of Tofino (76 percent) and Ucluelet (73 percent) are significantly more likely to send email or surf the net on a regular basis than residents of Ahousat (56 percent) and other First Nations communities (46 percent). Middle aged women (35-54) are the most likely to send email or surf the net at least several times a week (80 percent).
While there are very few gender differences in the frequency of media activities, there are, however, some age differences within gender. Older women (55+) are the most likely to watch television at least several times a week (87 percent) and younger women (<34) are the least likely (55 percent). Older men are the most likely to read a printed newspaper at least several times a weeks (58 percent) while middle aged men (28 percent) are the least likely.
The most commonly visited website in Clayoquot Sound is Facebook (22 percent), closely followed by news related sites (17 percent) and Google (15 percent). However, there are some significant differences between First Nations and other residents. MSN.com (36 percent) and Bebo (31 percent) were mentioned as the most frequently visited websites in Ahousat. At 11 percent, YouTube also appears twice as popular in Ahousat compared to Ucluelet or Tofino.
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. This is the last part in Ecotrust Canada’s ten-part series.
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.
Click the links to read other details and results.