Very few residents in and around Clayoquot Sound give their communities a good rating when it comes to sustainability. That's the finding of a survey of local residents conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada.

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
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About 68 percent of Clayoquot Sound residents claim they are familiar, to some degree, with the concept of sustainability. When asked to rate the sustainability of their own community after first being given the description of sustainability as "…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," responses were overwhelmingly poor.

Across the region, only three percent of residents think that the level of sustainability in their communities is excellent and only 14 percent rate it as good. Respondents are most likely (40 percent) to rate their own communities as having “OK” levels of sustainability, but nearly 40 percent rate it negatively.

Ucluelet residents are the most likely to say that the sustainability of their community is either excellent or good (21 percent). In First Nations communities, including Ahousat, Itatsoo, Hot Springs Cove, Esowista and Opitsat, less than one in ten view it as excellent or good.

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.

In the survey, Clayoquot residents were also asked to rate the importance of three different aspects of sustainability. Environmental health (61 percent) is rated as the most important, followed by social and cultural well-being (43 percent) and economic security (38 percent).  Overall, a majority think that each aspect of sustainability is very important.

When it comes to performance on the three core elements of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – a minority believe their community is doing a good job.  Communities are most likely to be seen as doing a good job on social and cultural well-being (29 percent rate it as very good or good), followed by environmental health (26 percent). Communities, however, are least likely to be rated as doing a good job in terms of long-term economic security (17 percent).

Tofino is most likely to be rated by its residents as doing a good job socially and culturally: 31 percent of residents rate this aspect of sustainability as good or very good. Ucluelet is most likely to be rated by its residents as doing a good job on environmental health (32 percent rate it as very good or good).

In Ahousat, social and cultural well-being (34 percent very good/good) is rated highest, followed by environmental health (21 percent) and economic security (11 percent).

The majority of residents of Clayoquot Sound appear to connect the dots between environmental sustainability and a healthy local economy. Sixty-one percent believe that environmentally sustainable companies are likely to be profitable over the long run. A further 58 percent believe that stricter protection of natural ecosystems will benefit the local economy. Only 14 percent disagree with these statements.

Nearly half (49 percent) of Clayoquot residents disagree that most large resource companies in the region are environmentally and socially responsible.  Tofino residents (57 percent) are the most likely to rate large companies in the region poor in terms of environmental and social responsibility followed by Ucluelet residents (53 percent), Ahousat (34 percent) and other First Nations (27 percent). Across all communities, those residents with more education are significantly more likely to link environmental protection with local economic benefit, and sustainability with profit potential.

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 about how local residents rate the importance and sustainability of ocean resources in and around Clayoquot Sound.

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