Survey says key to quality of life good neighbours and green places

Even during tough economic times, Canadians are most likely to identify good neighbours and green surroundings as key to the quality of life in their community, according to the results of a new national public-opinion survey.

The survey, which was commissioned by Community Foundations of Canada as part of its Vital Signs program and conducted by the Environics Research Group, showed:

• Almost nine-in-10 Canadians considered the quality of life in their community to be good, if not excellent.

• Community size counts. In communities of fewer than 5,000 residents, 43 per cent rated local quality of life as excellent, as compared to 32 per cent of those in cities of 100,000 people or more.

• Canadians identified investing in infrastructure, such as public transit, roads, better health and social services, as the most important step to improving their community’s quality of life.

• Canadians placed the greatest confidence in the leaders of local non-profit organizations in making a positive contribution to improving their community.

“We are weathering the worst recession in nearly 20 years, but when Canadians think about what makes our communities special, we think about the people and the surroundings — whether that means parks, clean air, lakes or rivers,” said Monica Patten, president and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada, the membership association of the 165 community foundations across the country.

“The survey also shows residents of smaller communities rate their quality of life as excellent more often than those in large centres,” said Michael Adams, founder of the Environics Research Group and head of the Environics Institute.

When asked to identify the one thing that contributed most to a positive quality of life in their community,  23 per cent of Canadians mentioned a positive physical environment, including green spaces, the presence of lakes, rivers or oceans, and good air quality,  while almost as many emphasized a positive social atmosphere, such as good neighbors and harmony between ethnic communities.  

Another 16 per cent identified the rural or small-town character of their community and 14 per cent focused on the infrastructure and local services available to community members. 

By comparison, only 10 per cent  identified the economy and/or job opportunities as the most important feature.

Almost nine-in-10 Canadians felt positive about the quality of life in their community. More than one-third described it as “excellent,” while another half considered it “good.” By comparison, 11 per cent rated their community as just “fair,” and only three per cent considered it “poor.”

By province, communities are rated most positively (excellent) among residents of British Columbia at 47 per cent, followed by Saskatchewan and Alberta at 41 per cent each, Ontario at 34 per cent, Atlantic Canada at 33 per cent, Manitoba at 28 per cent and Quebec at 30 per cent.

WinnipegREALTORS® and the Manitoba Real Estate Association abide by a Quality of Life program, which uses five principles that align with the findings of the survey. The goal of the Quality of Life program is to enable people to obtain what they value most — good jobs, homes and communities with good schools, safe neighbourhoods, plenty of green space and reliable public services, while preserving the environment.