Transportation a rising concern says Victoria’s Vital Signs report

Victoria, B.C. Oct.  2, 2012 – The high cost of living continues to top the list of concerns for Victoria’s residents, but transportation is a rising issue.  On the flip side, the natural environment, climate and walkability of the region continue to dominate the list of the best things about living here.

These are some of the results from the 2012 Vital Signs, an annual community report card produced by the Victoria Foundation and sponsored by Island Savings Credit Union. The report is a combination of public opinion and statistics that provides a snapshot of livability and well-being in Greater Victoria. 

Now in its seventh year of production, Victoria’s Vital Signs surveys residents to identify what they think are the most important issues facing Greater Victoria today.  This year transportation jumped from sixth to third place.  The cost of living and homelessness remained as the number one and two most important issues, followed by housing and addictions as the fourth and fifth areas of concern.

This is the second year survey respondents were also asked to list the best things about Greater Victoria.  Natural environment, climate, walkability, air quality, and festivals and events remained the top five answers.

“Clearly, Victoria is a wonderful place to live,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation. “But like all communities, we have our strengths and our areas for improvement.” Richardson said Vital Signs has become a critical tool in helping the Foundation identify causes that matter to Victorians.

“Vital Signs helps all of us understand our community better.  It celebrates successes, highlights needs and sheds light on opportunities.  For the Victoria Foundation, it helps guide us to make the most impactful grants.”

For the first time this year, a special section of the report looks at the livability of the region for future generations.  While there’s abundant evidence to suggest a bright future for the residents of tomorrow, the report also highlights a number of disturbing trends facing the children of today.  Of note is the fact that many children do not appear to be getting enough activity for healthy growth and development. 

The trends caused the Victoria Foundation to turn their attention to children in our community, and this year they launched the Smart & Caring Community Fund.  One of the first grant recipients from the fund was Pacific Sport Victoria that enabled the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence to bring the ABC’s of Physical Literacy program to 175 children at The Cridge Centre for the Family. The children learned fundamental movement skills that will help them build confidence and adopt active lifestyles.

Statistics reported in Vital Signs demonstrate some indicators are improving while others are staying the same or falling behind. For example, property crime is declining, there’s less garbage going into Hartland Landfill, and options to buy locally grown food are increasing. Meanwhile, charitable donations remain strong, as does the use of public libraries, and the Happiness Index remained steady, ranking Canada 5th of 150 countries.
Many of the worsening trends effect children, including more children in government care and more living in poverty, rising childcare fees,  higher housing costs as a percentage of income – especially for young people – and most youth exceeding recommended screen time.

Victoria Foundation Board Chair Deirdre Roberts said the kind of information tracked in Vital Signs can help both individuals and organizations in making funding, donating and policy decisions.

“The Vital Signs initiative helps keep us in touch and on target,” she said. “By monitoring the trends impacting our community’s children today, we can chart a course for a better future – not only for current residents, but also for future generations.”

The Vital Signs report is part of a nation-wide initiative, coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada. A total of 14 community foundations across Canada released local Vital Signs® report cards today.

The entire 2012 Victoria's Vital Signs report is available for download here.