Housing is the top issue in Metro Vancouver – but even more so in New West/Burnaby/Richmond than in other Metro Vancouver cities.
That’s one of the findings of a recent survey done by the Angus Reid Institute, which polled Metro Vancouver residents on the topics of amalgamation and top issues in the region.
In a post-municipal-election poll, Angus Reid found that constituents are hoping their elected representatives will begin the term with a focus on three core issues: housing; homelessness; and crime.
“If there is an issue that unifies Metro Vancouverites, it’s housing affordability,” states a report from the Angus Reid Institute.
Across the region, 49 per cent of respondents said this is the top issue in Metro Vancouver. In Burnaby/Richmond/New West, it was listed as the top issue by 55 per cent of respondents, second only to Vancouver (57 per cent).
Angus Reid divided respondents into different geographical areas: Burnaby/Richmond/New West; City of Vancouver; West Van/North Van; Tri-Cities/Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows; and Surrey/White Rock/Delta/ Langley.
Among respondents in Burnaby, New West and Richmond, the second and third most important issues were homelessness/poverty (23 per cent) and crime/safety (21 per cent). Other issues included: proving good value for tax dollars (18 per cent); the economy/jobs (16 per cent); the opioid crisis (15 per cent); environmental issues (13 per cent); transportation/traffic (nine per cent); public transit (seven per cent); leadership (five per cent); and other (eight per cent).
Angus Reid Institute also questioned Metro Vancouverites about crime and safety, noting it appeared to be a significant factor in recently municipal elections, particularly in Vancouver and Surrey. While Metro Vancouver’s crime severity index score, as calculated by Statistics Canada, is higher than the national average at 81.6, the pollster noted it had dropped from 105 in 2020 – yet the widely held perception is that crime has been increasing.
Of the respondents in New West, Burnaby and Richmond, 52 per cent believe crime has increased in the past five years, 29 per cent thought there had been no change, five per cent felt it had decreased and 13 per cent weren’t sure.
Residents were also questioned about the amount of funding that is spent on policing in the community.
Of the 315 residents in Burnaby/Richmond/New West who were surveyed about this issue, nine per cent felt police were receiving too much funding (compared to 16 per cent among overall respondents and a high of 24 per cent in the City of Vancouver.) Thirty-four per cent felt the funding was about right, 32 per cent said police received too little funding and 25 per cent didn’t know.
As for where they’d like to see police resources allocated, regardless of whether they want to see funding reduced or increased, 56 per cent of residents in the New West, Burnaby and Richmond area would like to see resources directed to social welfare solutions, like mental health resources and housing programs, and 44 per cent would like resources to go to more police presence in high crime areas.
The question of amalgamation of cities was posed in response to the fact that Metro Vancouver is comprised of 21 municipalities, all responsible for holding separate elections for mayor and city council.
The Angus Reid Institute stated that other major Canadian cities, including Toronto and Montreal, have some form of centralized civic governments – with some wondering if B.C. should do the same.
“Half in Metro Vancouver support some sort of amalgamation,” stated the institute’s report. “Approaching one-in 10 (eight per cent) say all of the Metro region should be served by one mayor and city council. Two in five (42 per cent) support at least one partial amalgamation scenario, such as the Tri-Cities, the North Shore or Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge merging. Meanwhile, three in 10 (31 per cent) oppose amalgamation as they believe the current system is fine as is.”