A community survey of Clayoquot Sound conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada found that concerns about over-development, housing, affordability and the environment were top of mind for residents. Local communities are beset by challenges typical of rural areas, but also unique to resort-municipalities facing rapid and wide-scale development.
Clayoquot Community Survey
Clayoquot Communities Map
When asked to name what concerns them most about the future of the Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim region 42 percent of residents mention issues related to over-development, including the number of tourists. Thirty-two percent identified social issues, affordability, and housing as their biggest concerns. Some 29 percent of the population mentioned environmental degradation and natural resource depletion as a top concern.
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 Nations communities including 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 Clayoquot Community Survey, residents of Ucluelet (56 percent) are more likely than those in other communities to mention over-development and too many people as their top concern. Thirty-nine percent of those from Tofino mention development as the biggest issue, whereas 22 percent of Ahousat residents and 31 percent of residents in other First Nations communities also share this opinion.
Ucluelet residents (24 percent) are also more likely than those in all other communities to mention lack of amenities or infrastructure. This is a concern for 14 percent of those from Tofino, 18 percent of residents in other First Nations (Hot Springs Cove, Opitsat, Esowista and Itatsoo), and only one percent of Ahousat residents. Ucluelet residents also mention lack of jobs or unemployment (22 percent) more than other communities.
Ahousat residents (44 percent) are by far the most concerned about specific environmental issues such as problems with salmon farming, the depletion of salmon and other fish stocks, as well as ocean habitat loss. Ahousat residents (34 percent) are also far more likely to mention deforestation than other First Nations (19 percent), Tofino (18 percent), or Ucluelet (8 percent) residents.
The environmental consequences of mining are another top-of-mind concern that are far more salient in Ahousat (21 percent) than in Tofino (14 percent) and Ucluelet (4 percent). Tofino residents, on the other hand, are most concerned about general environmental issues (36 percent) compared to residents in other Clayoquot communities.
When asked to rate a list of nine specific community concerns, majorities in all communities are very concerned about affordable housing (72 percent), closely followed by protecting the environment (71 percent) and the cost of living (67 percent).
Across the region, 56 percent of citizens are very concerned about alcohol and drug abuse. However, among Ahousat residents, drug and alcohol abuse is a top issue, with significantly more people (72 percent) saying they are very concerned about it than in Ucluelet (57 percent), Tofino (52 percent) and other First Nations communities (51 percent). Ahousat residents (69 percent) were also more than twice as likely to identify crime as a top concern compared to the regional average (28 percent).
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 attitudes toward the environment and global warming among residents of Clayoquot Sound.
Please comment on the survey findings. See the comment box below.