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Originally featured on the Comox Valley Record.

One in three Valley residents — especially those living in Cumberland — have a strong sense of belonging, according to a Comox Valley Community Foundation survey.

In the first-ever Vital Signs online quality of life survey, respondents rated their sense of belonging on a scale from zero to 10. The overall score for the Valley was 7.3. Cumberland scored eight, significantly above Comox, Courtenay and the rural areas. K’ómoks First Nation residents scored even higher, but the number of responses was small.

Overall, the survey garnered 1,024 responses.

“The geographical distribution of respondents over Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, and Areas A, B and C was roughly in line with the populations,” project chair Harry Panjer said. “A bit surprising was that about 70 per cent of respondents were female, outnumbering male respondents by over two to one. Not surprising was that only a few respondents were under the age of 20. Similarly, the population over age 80 was also under-represented, presumably due to the survey being conducted online.”

Vital Signs is a national program to support action towards improving the quality of life of Canadians. Findings from a 2015 Community Foundations of Canada report connect health, happiness and sustained employment to a strong sense of belonging and connection.

In partnership with the United Way, the CVCF will launch a Vital Signs report and detailed survey results Oct. 4.

“The report is intended to paint a picture of where we stand on a variety of indicators of the various aspects affecting the quality of life here,” Panjer said. “It is intended that many organizations serving the community will use the report to inform them, and help guide them in making strategic and operational decisions.”

He expects the report will be used largely by service clubs and other agencies to establish funding priorities, and by charities looking to obtain funding.

“Local politicians will be interested in reading about the broader issues in the community,” Panjer added. “Two more detailed back-up documents that are in preparation will be helpful to those wishing to dig a bit deeper.”

The next survey is likely to be conducted in about 2019, once data from the 2016 census is updated. In the intervening three years, Panjer said the foundation will follow up on issues coming from the first report through a program of ‘conversations’ with the community.

The report will be available following a Vital Signs launch event. The public is invited. Contact CVCFadmin@shaw.ca for details, or follow foundation news on Twitter @cvcfed.

Also this fall, the foundation will be issuing a call for Canada 150 grants to foster a greater sense of belonging, to support meaningful reconciliation and to leave a lasting legacy. For more information, visit cvcfoundation.org