Nanaimo’s annual check-up, Vital Signs, was released yesterday to give community leaders insights into how to make the city better for all residents.
This is the second release of Vital Signs, a report that covers 10 areas of issues that should be considered when assessing the overall health and vitality of a community.
These include; Sense of Belonging, Safety and Security, Gap Between Rich & Poor, Health & Wellness, Learning, Housing, Economy, Arts & Culture, Environment and Getting Around.
The areas received grades with the Gap Between Rich and Poor receiving the lowest with a D+ and Arts and Culture receiving the highest with a B-.
Vital Signs is a joint collaboration between IslandSavings Credit Union, United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Foundation.
“We were one of 28 communities across Canada committed to participate in Vital Signs,” says Tim Mawdsley, chair of Vital Signs for the Nanaimo Foundation. “That in itself is a huge accomplishment.”
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay says Vital Signs is about “the quality of life for Nanaimo residents and findings ways to improve it. We know from the data that affordable housing is an issue for many Nanaimo residents.”
Housing rated a C- in the report and this ties in closely with the average earnings of Nanaimo residents.
United Way director Signy Maddon says 38% of Nanaimo residents are not earning a living wage, which is based on $18 an hour working full time.
“That has far reaching implications in terms of mental health, stress on the family,” she says. “We need to look at those numbers, determine how to invest our dollars.”
Using the data correctly to learn how to improve the city is important, says Island Savings president Randy Bertsch.
“This data really is an essential tool to start conversations around the most pressing issues of Nanaimo. This report is an important resource for our organizations as well. The findings in this report tell us exactly where we need to focus our attention.”
Data for Vital Signs was collected from a survey of 600 residents in conjunction with a review of local and national data.
Nanaimo’s best top 5 chosen by the resident were; natural environment, climate, parks, air quality and friends and family. The top 5 most important issues are; employment opportunities, affordable housing, poverty, community planning/development and economy.