Basin residents happy, plan to stay: Snapshot of 2016 State of the Basin Snapshot

The majority of people living in the area are happy living here and plan to stay, according to the 2016 State of the Basin Snapshot Report.

The majority of people living in the Columbia Basin-Boundary area are happy living here and plan to stay a while.

Of those polled, 86 per cent of the region’s residents said they “love where they live” and 82 per cent anticipate they’ll live here for the next five years, according to research done by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Selkirk College.

A majority of residents also reported that they volunteer in the community 77 per cent and most report having frequent social contact with friends or family. Thirty-one per cent said they meet with friends or family once a week and 45 per cent said more than once a week. Only 7 per cent said they meet less than once a month.

These statistics indicate that the majority of residents feel a sense of belonging and connection to community, which are considered “fundamental aspects of social well-being.” They were collected as part of the RDI’s 2016 State of the Basin (STOB) Report a report the RDI has released annually since 2012.

The STOB is meant “to provide access to the data communities need to make decisions that lead to greater regional well-being,” which it does by analyzing a number of indicators. The RDI collects data for all of the indicators from a variety of sources, though not all of the data is updated annually, so some of the data is from previous years. The RDI also polled “a statistically significant sample of residents” to get a better understanding of residents’ subjective well-being.

Though the full STOB Report is not yet available, the RDI recently released a 2016 State of the Basin Snapshot Report. The snapshot breaks the indicators into different themes that relate to the four “core pillars” that make up the STOB.

What follows is a snapshot of the snapshot.

SOCIETY

Community & Society

As previously mentioned, the majority residents reported loving where they live and having intentions to stay, they also volunteer in the community and have regular social engagement.

The percentage of tax filers who claimed charitable donations has remained consistent over the past five years, with $30 million donated to registered charities.

Health & Wellness

The average incidence of low birth weights in the Columbia Basin Boundary is 53.6 low weight births per 1,000 live births, a little better than the province average of 55.6.

In the Kootenay-Columbia School District, 22 per cent of children are vulnerable in one or more domains of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) including physical, social, language, emotional and communications scales well below the 32 per cent average.

Of the residents polled, 64 per cent rate their access to recreational facilities as good or very good, and 74 per cent rated their access to recreational experiences and opportunities as good or very good.

Education & Learning

The rate of high school completion in the Kootenay-Columbia School District was 81.9 per cent in the 2014-15 school year, up from 80.5 per cent in 2013-14. In comparison, all B.C. public schools had a high school completion rate of 83.9 per cent in 2014-15.

The majority of class sizes in the Columbia Basin-Boundary are smaller than the provincial average.

Of residents polled, 65 per cent rate access to education as good or very good.

ECONOMY

Economic

The unemployment rate in the Kootenay Development Region is 7.4, higher than the provincial rate of 6.2 and the national rate of 6.9.

The projected population change for the Trail Local Health Area, which includes Rossland, between 2016 and 2035 is an increase of zero to five per cent.

The projected population change for the Castlegar Local Health Area between 2016 and 2035 is an increase of 15 to 20 per cent.

Of residents polled, 68 per cent felt their families were the same off financially as they were six months ago.

Infrastructure

Gross annual water supplies typically decreased from 2009 to 2015, according to reported data.

Rossland’s gross water supply decreased over 20 percent during that period.

The number of public water notifications decreased from the 153 issued in 2015, but a number of them have been in place for over five years.

Average daily traffic counts increased in the region by an average of 4.5 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Of residents polled, 33 per cent believe their access to high-speed internet is very good.

CULTURE

Parks, Recreation & Culture

Of residents polled, 74 per cent say their access to arts and cultural experiences and opportunities is very good and 42 per cent said they had expressed themselves through an arts or cultural activity in the past 12 months.

The average percent of spending by Columbia Basin-Boundary municipalities on parks, recreation and culture was pretty consistent with the average percent of spending by all B.C. municipalities between 1997 and 2011, though from 2012 to 2014, the average percent of spending by all B.C. municipalities rose above the region’s average per cent of spending.

ENVIRONMENT

Based on 2016 data, there has been a dramatic decrease in wildfires in comparison to 2014 and 2015.

Of residents polled, the majority felt that lakes, streams and ground water, drinking water, wildlife, forests and natural vegetation and air pollution were not a problem.

The majority felt that soil erosion, invasive weeds and extreme weather events were somewhere in between not being a problem and being a big problem.

To read the full snapshot, visit cbrdi.ca/state-of-the-basin.