Homelessness city’s top issue: Abbotsford’s Vital Signs report

Followed by affordable housing, employment opportunities

Homelessness is the number one issue facing Abbotsford today, followed by affordable housing and employment opportunities, according to participants in the online Vital Signs survey.

When asked for the best thing about Abbotsford, the highest on the list was friends and family, followed by affordability and sense of community.

Some 32 per cent of survey participants said they were dissatisfied with public transit in Abbotsford compared to 21 per cent who were satisfied, according to the 2014 Vital Signs Report, produced by the Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF).

Among the suggestions given by survey participants, many said the city needs more buses and better links to transit hubs.

The majority of survey participants (73 per cent) said they drove to work.

“Significantly, 53 per cent of survey respondents said their average commute was less than 15 minutes. When you add to this the fact that 62 per cent of Abbotsford’s working residents work in Abbotsford, it’s clear the potential exists to significantly increase transit use and decrease the number of cars on the road,“ said Susan McAlevy, executive director of ACF.

The report also revealed that Abbotsford spends less per capita on recreation and culture than Surrey, Nanaimo or Victoria.  The city spent $28.6 million on parks, recreation and culture in 2012, 79.6 per cent ($22.9 million) of this was spent on parks and recreation, 13.6 per cent ($3.9 million) on libraries and 6.8 per cent ($1.9 million) on culture.

About 44 per cent of survey participants reported that they were satisfied with the level of support provided by the city for arts and culture, and 22 per cent were dissatisfied.

“Over 30 per cent of survey respondents answered ‘neutral’ when asked if they were satisfied with the city’s support for arts and culture. Those who want to see more funding for the creative arts have an opportunity, with this many people ‘undecided’, to increase public support by promoting the benefits, particularly the economic benefits, of investing in arts and culture,” said McAlevy.

The report covers five issue areas including transportation, arts and culture, environment, safety and jobs and the economy. This year 556 people took the online survey compared to 330 last year.

All participants who completed the survey were entered in a draw to win an iPad mini and the winner was Karen Veerkamp.