The 2018 Comox Valley’s Vital Signs report has been released and shows little change in the results from 2016.
The report, put together by the Comox Valley Community Foundation, measures the quality of life in the Valley and looks at 10 different areas that are important to a thriving community.
Harry Panjer, Vital Signs survey analyst, worked extensively on both reports and was surprised by the lack of change.
“For me, the most surprising result was actually the consistency of responses from 2016 to 2018,” he said. “In general, things don’t change quickly very much. It shows that if there are changes going on in the community, they are generally gradual as opposed to dramatic over a short period of time.”
The one exception to the rule was the topic of housing, where the responses varied significantly from 2016.
Respondents were given statements and asked to rate their agreement with -10 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.
In 2016, the statement, “Housing is affordable in the Comox Valley,” brought a disagreement rate of -2.6 whereas in 2018, the same statement brought a -6.3.
“I think most people in the Comox Valley would recognize that housing costs have gone up a lot in the last couple of years,” said Panjer, adding that this is reflected in the survey.
Other areas that are covered by the report include arts, culture and recreation, economy and work, environment and sustainability and food.
Though the average of the responses shows little change in the results from 2016, Panjer emphasizes that individual responses were differentiated depending on age, economic comfort level or geographical location. For example, Panjer said people with lower economic comfort levels disagreed that sport and recreation opportunities are affordable, while people of higher economic comfort levels agreed with the statement.
A large part of the data that this survey was based on came from the 2016 Canadian Census conducted by Statistics Canada. The previous survey was based on the Voluntary National Household Survey from 2012.
More than 1,300 people took the survey, however, a couple hundred of those people did not complete it. Panjer says every question that was completed was counted, whether or not the respondent completed the survey.
“We managed to work hard to get 1,000 responses in a small community of 65,000 people, so that is really a high response rate for a small population,” he said. “Once you get to a survey of 1,000 people, you can begin to draw conclusions where there are significant differences.”
The CVCF partnered with North Island College, United Way Central Northern Vancouver Island and the Social Planning Society. The partnerships formed a steering committee that evaluated the 2016 report and determined the direction and survey questions to be included in the 2018 report.
The steering committee also had the vital role of speaking with a variety of community experts who gave context for the data.
“None of us are experts in all the subject matter, but by working together, we really strengthened the information we were able to gather and we had broader perspectives brought to the table,” said CVCF executive director Jody MacDonald.
According to MacDonald, the report gives valuable information about quality of life indicators that are improving and those that need more work which is used extensively by organizations and businesses in the community.
She said this can be helpful to politicians to see their constituents’ views on different topics, or even funding agencies and non-profits who are looking to direct their efforts towards areas that are the most meaningful to the community.
There is no word when the next vital signs survey will be conducted, but Panjer expects it will be after the next Canadian census in 2020.
To view the full report, visit cvcfoundation.org/vital-signs/