The Community Foundation of North Okanagan delivered it’s 2017 Vital Signs report today.
The report looks at the vitality of our region and Foundation Executive Director Leanne Hammond says overall we’re doing fairly well.
“We have a fairly healthy, vibrant community. Crime rates are overall coming down. But we definitely have a long way to go in areas such as housing and employment.”
Hammond says air quality is down as well over the past couple of years.
The measurements were taken before the fires this summer.
Particulate matter concentrations of 7.2 micrograms per cubic metre, measured in 2014, is one of then highest in the province.
“That’s the most recent data that we can get, but part of the point of doing this is to be able to track it over time. So now that we’ve had a couple of summers of really bad fires, the next set of data that comes out we want to be able to monitor whether it gets worse.”
She says population growth and the way the valley sits may contribute to air quality deterioration as well.
The survey also found sixty-five per cent of people surveyed don’t feel a sense of belonging anymore.
“So that’s lower than it was when we last did this in 2011. In 2011, 74 per cent of people in our area felt a strong sense of community belonging and that’s dropped by 10 per cent.”
A series of vital conversations will be held in November to discuss that and other issues.
Leanne Hammond says part of the problem may be the loss of funding for some social programs.
She says the way to counteract some of the feelings may be in increasing funding to programs like Better At Home for seniors, volunteering driving and such.
The general political climate in the world may also have something to do with it.
“The way we’re looking at the cup half empty, the cup half full.”
When it comes to health, the region is close to the national and provincial averages, but there are issues with mood and anxiety disorders.
“Prevalence of depression is notably higher. So for our area 29.3 per cent of North Okanagan residents suffer from depression.”
She says that shows more of a focus needs to be put on mental health.
When it comes to having a doctor, 82 per cent of the population have access to a regular medical doctor.
Hammond says the purpose of the report is to establish indicators that we can track over time to see if the investments that we’re making in social programs, arts and culture, various places are actually moving the needle on making a difference.