Personal and community well-being contribute to the health, vitality, and future of our communities. To understand this subjective well-being, in 2021, researchers at Selkirk Innovates administered a survey to 400 residents of the Columbia Basin-Boundary Region. The survey asked over 100 questions regarding residents’ perceptions, experiences, and behaviours around a variety of important topics, such as life satisfaction, community well-being, consumer confidence, sense of belonging, access to services, crime and safety, impacts of climate change, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more.
The 2021 survey results suggest that residents have a high level of satisfaction with personal and community well-being. However, when compared to the results from the previous survey in 2019, well-being across many topics decreased over this two-year period. While caution should be used when comparing between survey years because different residents were polled in each year, this comparison is valuable when thinking about what factors may have contributed to these changes, such as the pandemic and extreme weather events.
For example, survey respondents provided their opinions about five economic questions, which were used to calculate the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI). If consumer confidence is high, people tend to make more purchases. If consumer confidence is low, people tend to spend less and save more. The survey results from 2021 have a CCI of 45%. This is a 22% decrease compared to 2019 when residents were last surveyed.
The impact of the pandemic is a factor that likely contributed to the reduced consumer confidence. This is evidenced in the 2021 survey when respondents rate the change in their family finances and the job situation and overall employment since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 (see graph below). Many respondents indicate their family finances are the same since COVID-19 (60%), but that employment is worse off (54%). In another related question, 48% of survey respondents strongly agree with the statement “I am worried about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Other subjective well-being results indicate survey respondents are satisfied with their jobs and quality of the local environment. With a strong sense of community, most would recommend their community as a good place to live and are not considering moving. They feel the landscape of their community is attractive and say that livability is generally getting better. Most buy local, exercise regularly, and donate to charity.
These subjective well-being results, along with the State of the Basin’s objective well-being indicators, provide important information to support decision-making. As we continue to recover from the pandemic and adapt to changing conditions, perceptions about personal and community well-being are also changing. Future subjective well-being research can capture these changing perceptions and what this means for our region.
To access the full report and see all the results from the subjective well-being research, click the link below.