Rural residents in the South Okanagan have noticed a decline in their quality of life over the past two years, according to a new survey.
Four hundred people were polled for the 2012 edition of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s citizens survey, results of which were compared to one conducted in 2010. Most questions were answered using a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most favourable response.
In this year’s edition, the average resident rated his quality of life at 7.7, down from 8.1 in 2010. A small slide, to eight from 8.3, was also recorded on a question about the region being a good place to retire.
But the results showed improvement when people were asked if they receive good value for their tax dollars: 6.2 compared to 5.7 two years ago; and whether they believe the RDOS is doing a good job: 6.3 compared to six.
“Generally what we found was that the rating on the quality of life issues … was down a little bit, but the rating we got overall on the organization was better,” said chief administrative officer Bill Newell. “Even though it’s still not good, it’s better than it was two years ago.”
RDOS board chair Dan Ashton said the results are “still good.”
“In my opinion, I don’t think you can find a better place to live than the Okanagan-Similkameen anywhere,” he continued.
“But we as a government have to be cognizant and try harder.”
Ashton thinks results may have been skewed by a poor showing in the Princeton area, where the regional district’s plan to build a pool was voted down last year by residents. He also thinks some people confuse his government’s mandate with that of the province when it comes to roads and health care.
“Most people don’t understand what the RDOS does,” Ashton said.
“That’s one of the issues, but we have to try harder and I’m not trying to divert.”
Residents were also asked about environmental concerns and they now rate water quality as their top priority, a change from 2010 when water supply was the top-ranked issue.
According to an RDOS press release, which overstated the results, the survey is considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Newell said an outside firm was hired to conduct the survey by phone, and that the 400 respondents were selected to provide a “statistically correct sample.” Full results are available at www.rdos.bc.ca.