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Neighbourhood Connections

Our neighbourhoods can be welcoming places and we’re open to deeper connections. Now it’s time to extend the invitation to everyone.

What we asked

There is something unique about our relationship with the people who live on our block, in our building, or down the street. We wanted to understand how to strengthen these relationships for everyone.

In 2012, we asked people if they feel welcome and a sense of belonging in their neighbourhood. We asked this again in 2017, but we also wanted to dig deeper into the strength of our connections with neighbours. We asked how well people know their neighbours, and if they can rely on them for help. We were also keen to find out if people want to know their neighbours better, and if so, what kinds of things they would like to do together. 

Finally, we asked people why they moved into their neighbourhood, if they are satisfied with where they live or if they are planning to move away – and why. We were also curious to know if people trust their neighbours, and how this compares to how much they trust strangers.

What we heard

Many people feel welcome in their neighbourhood and have a strong sense of belonging, particularly residents age 55 and over.

Overall, approximately two-thirds (64%) of Metro Vancouver residents report feeling welcome in their neighbourhood and a sense of belonging. Compared to our 2012 survey result of 68%, this proportion has dipped slightly. 

Most residents talk to their neighbours regularly, and know between three and four neighbours well enough to ask for help.

Most people in Metro Vancouver have conversations with their neighbours at least monthly (69%), and know at least one neighbour by name (88%). 
 

But one-in-five don’t have a neighbour they can call on for help.

Our survey indicates that 21% of residents do not know any neighbours well enough to call on them for help. This percentage rises to 33% for renters, 34% for people age 25 to 34, 36% for people age 18 to 24, and 38% among students.

Many residents are open to forging deeper relationships with their neighbours – even more so among those who have lived here for shorter periods of time.

Our survey indicates that over half of residents (53%) would like to get to know their neighbours better. People who were even more likely to want to get to know their neighbours better include those who have lived in Canada for 10 years or less (66%), or those who have lived in the neighbourhood for 5 years or less (61%).

Social gatherings, community events or festivals, and participating in a community project are the most popular ways for neighbours to get to know each other.

Among people age 18 to 24, preferred ways to meet neighbours include neighbourhood social gatherings (39%), and social gatherings in a local park or green space (30%). Those who have lived in Canada for less than 10 years are more likely than most residents to attend a community event or festival (37%), and participate in a neighbourhood or community project (33%).

About half of all residents expect to stay in their neighbourhood long-term, while the other half is either expecting to move in the next five years, or is simply unsure.

The top five reasons for expecting to move away are because they can no longer afford to stay (42%), want more space or a larger home (28%), wish to downsize to a smaller home (18%), because the roads are becoming more congested (17%), and to be closer to friends and family (15%). 

Most people like where they live and express trust in their neighbours.

Our survey finds that 74% of Metro Vancouver residents report living where they want to live. For those living in a high-rise, the rate is even higher at 79%.

What this means 

We believe that where we live plays an important role in forming deeper relationships with each other, and that better connections lead to stronger neighbourhoods.

Older residents tend to feel more welcome and a stronger sense of belonging to their neighbourhood.

Despite rapid changes to our communities, our older residents still feel a strong sense of belonging – higher in fact than any other group. Because people who have lived here for less than 10 years have not yet developed the same bonds, we believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to extend a warm welcome.

While most people have neighbours they can count on, one-in-five is far too many that don’t.

Overall, 79% know at least one neighbour well enough to ask for help, while 47% know three or more. But we are concerned that one-in-five people don’t know any neighbours well enough to ask for help. This rises to around a third of people age 18 to 35, and nearly 40% among students. 

Neighbours want to get to know each other better, particularly those that have lived here for shorter periods of time.

Our survey shows that over half of all residents want to spend more time with their neighbours. This number rises among those who have lived in Canada for 10 years or less or have lived in the neighbourhood for five years or less. 

I feel like there’s almost a longing and a craving for community that you see from people…there’s just some way you have to bridge the gap of everybody for longing for it, but not doing it.

Youth Focus Group Participant

Now we know more about how people would like to connect, it’s time to work on the invitation.

Our survey provides greater insights into how people would like to connect. Those experiencing weaker connections, in particular, have clear ideas about how to make new friends. 

Neighbourhoods are always changing, so let’s forge connections wherever we live.

Our survey shows that while housing affordability is on many people’s minds as they contemplate a move, there are other lifestyle factors such as upsizing or downsizing our homes, transportation needs, and being closer to friends and family that influence our decisions. 

Most people like where they live and express trust in their neighbours.

Our survey shows 74% of people live where they want to, and 63% trust their neighbours to return a wallet or purse. These numbers give us hope about the neighbourhoods we are building for tomorrow. 

Read more about ‘Neighbourhood Connections’ in Vancouver Foundation’s 2017 Connect & Engage Report.

Download the full report

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