Homelessness is having a direct impact on the vast majority (88%) of city of Vancouver residents.
Vancouver, BC —As the tent city in the Strathcona Park continues to attract media attention, a new research study conducted by Insights West has found that while homelessness is having a major impact on residents, and most are keen to see action taken, the preference is to deal with it in a compassionate way rather than heavy-handed approach.
Vancouver residents are starting to feel the impact of homelessness on a personal level, as the majority of residents (88%) indicate that homelessness is having a direct impact on them personally. Of that number, only 27% are saying it’s having a major impact, while 61% say it’s having a minor impact. The impact is being more highly felt among those living downtown (33% ‘major impact’) and the east end (31%) of Vancouver relative to those living in the west side of the city (16%).
One the most visible examples of homelessness in Vancouver is the Strathcona Park tent city, which has been in existence for the past year. In our poll, nearly all (97%) city of Vancouver residents are aware of the issue and the vast majority (73%) and are either following it somewhat closely (47%) or are following it very closely (26%). Only 24% of residents are aware of the issues around tent city but are not following the news stories.
The vast majority (85%) disagree that we should ‘do nothing’, and the preference among many is to handle the situation by moving people out slowly as affordable housing becomes available rather than more forceful options. Nearly half (47%) agree that ‘getting an injunction and having police clear out residents’ is a good solution, a number that pales in comparison to an approach of ‘moving residents into affordable housing as it becomes available’ which is seen as being a good idea by a much larger proportion of residents (84%). Fewer (42%) agree that ‘allowing residents to stay and provide services in the park such as warming areas, washroom facilities and showers’ is a good idea—about the same number (41%) who agree that ‘creating smaller alternative tent areas with more services and move residents there’ is a good option.
When forced to choose between those different alternative options, nearly half feel that moving residents into affordable housing (49%) is the best option, which is over double the number who prefer an injunction (21%). Males (29%) and those in older age categories (25% of those 35-54 years old and 29% of those 55 years +) are far more likely to want to take the hardline approach of an injunction than females (15%) or younger residents (11% of those 18-34 years of age).
One of the challenges of the tent city is that Vancouverites feel that is a multi-level government responsibility. Four-in-ten (42%) think that the main responsibility for the problem rests with the City of Vancouver, one-quarter (24%) think it is the provincial government’s main responsibility and 12% think it is primarily a Vancouver Park Board problem. But a majority think that there is at least partial responsibility to be had by all three government entities – 97% agree it is a main or shared responsibility of the City of Vancouver 92% of the provincial government, and 75% the Vancouver Park Board.
“The Strathcona tent city issue has been at the forefront of the homelessness problem in Vancouver for sometime, but as many experts and politicians have already pointed out—it is a difficult issue that cannot be assigned a simplistic solution” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “What is quite astounding in our poll is the number of people who have been directly impacted by the homelessness problem in Vancouver which seems to have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
About Insights West:
Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 25 out of 26 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.
About this Release:
Results are based on an online study conducted from February 5-9, 2021 among a sample of 500 City of Vancouver residents from our Insights West Feedback Community—a randomly recruited panel of BC residents who participate in our studies on an ongoing basis. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.5 percentage points for BC residents, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.
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Photo of the Strathcona Park homeless tent encampment in Vancouver. PHOTO BY JASON PAYNE /PNG