“A survey conducted by the Vancouver Foundation and released today found Metro Vancouver residents feel increasingly estranged from their friends, their neighbours and their communities.” …
“Affordability factored heavily in the survey results, with roughly equal numbers of people reporting living comfortably and finding it difficult to get by.
Significantly, more than half of respondents agreed that Vancouver is becoming a resort town for the wealthy and that there is too much foreign ownership of real estate. This view was particularly common among people aged 25-34, a group whose responses to many survey questions revealed a marked cynicism about the state of their communities compared with other age groups.”
– excerpt from ‘Social isolation has far-reaching effects on us and our neighbours, survey says’, Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun, 18 Jun 2012
“I am in that age group and this accurately describes how I feel.”
– joe_blown_away_by_high_housing_costs at VREAA, 18 Jun 2012 9:25am [Thanks for the link to the article, joe. -ed.]
The Vancouver Foundation survey itself available from their website as a pdf:
Connections and Engagements, A survey of metro Vancouver, June 2012, Vancouver Foundation
More from the Sun article:
“Bob Cowin spoke about losing a sense of connection with his neighbours over the years. Cowin moved into a new subdivision in Coquitlam in the mid-’80s where the developer had landscaped the front yards, but the backyards were nothing but mud. Neighbours got to know each other creating their back gardens and building the retaining walls that were necessary because most properties backed onto a mountain slope.
“Swinging a sledge hammer and dashing down to the local building supplies store for a different drill bit resulted not only in walls but also relationships,” Cowin wrote in an email.
A year after the retaining walls were finished, Cowin noticed a new kind of wall going up: cedar fences between properties that made the neighbourly conversations that used to happen over the fence impossible.
A burst of young children brought the adults in the community together in a different way, forming child-minding co-ops and walking school buses, Cowin recalled. The elementary school became a social hub, and the neighbourhood held yearly block parties.
Then the children started middle school and didn’t need their parents as much, he said.
“The street was extended, and the sense of a local place disappeared. Houses started being sold, and a different, and increasingly multicultural, demographic moved in.”
Cowin feels the increasing ethnic diversity was a mixed blessing for his neighbourhood.
“It has been great for our kids, who, thanks in large measure to the schools, have developed a tolerance and intercultural competence that I admire,” he said. “For the adults, language and other barriers have made it tougher. My new neighbours are still fine people, but it takes more effort and intentionality to maintain relationships.”
The entire Sun article is worth the read, as is the comments section below it.
The phenomenon of “isolation in the city” (“water water all around but not a drop to drink”) is by no means new. Is Vancouver really any different from other big cities in this regard?
We don’t know of any data that could allow one to objectively compare. Are the findings in this survey very different from similar surveys elsewhere?
We are certain, however, that there is a substantial subgroup of locals who feel strained by Vancouver’s housing prices: either by the financial burden of ownership, or from the distress of feeling ‘priced out’ and (for many, but not all) the consequent sense of ‘not belonging’. And we know that such strain is not good for the health of individuals, families and communities.
Also, the very high cost of housing creates an implied large wealth disparity across the owner/non-owner divide that would not be present in times of more normal housing markets. Such a disparity is closely correlated with dissatisfaction within a community.