Sunshine Coast Foundation in October 2019 released its latest Vital Signs report, a review of indicators of community health. The 2019 Vital Brief celebrates ten years since the 2009 Vital Signs report and tracks progress on measurements of local quality of life.

“The 2019 Vital Brief contains both good and bad news for our community,” said Vicki Dobbyn, Foundation Board Chair. “We all know what a safe and healthy community this is in which to live; however, increasing numbers of our neighbours are not doing well,” she added.

While many Coast residents enjoy a high quality of life, vulnerable populations are faring worse than they did a decade ago. For example, food bank use is an indicator of those facing many challenges. The report notes that the number of households registered at the Sunshine Coast Food Bank grew from 450 in 2009 to 770 in 2018, a 70% increase.

While the median household income on the Coast reached $60,279, a 6% increase from 2005, our community ranks 9th worst among BC’s 29 regional districts.

The cost and availability of housing on the Coast remain significant challenges. As reported in the Vital Brief, the percentage of local renters spending more than 30% of their income on housing increased by 6%, from an average of 46% in 2006 to 52% in 2016, which is greater than the provincial average for renters of 43%.

There are some areas in which our communities have made gains in the past decade. In 2009, only 25% of waste generated was diverted from the landfill to recycling facilities. Since 2012, the ratio of material diverted has fluctuated between 53% and 56%.

Water conservation efforts are paying off as well. Use per person has decreased by more than 25%, from 628 litres per person per day in 2008 to 503 litres in 2018.

The Sunshine Coast remains a safe place to live and raise a family, compared to the rest of BC. The crime rate of 35.1 per 1,000 residents is more than half of the provincial average of 74.2.

“The big takeaway from the 2019 Vital Brief is that, despite the efforts of wonderful agencies and generous donors, life is not getting any better for those among us who are most vulnerable,” said Dobbyn. “The Foundation looks forward to working with local governments, service providers, and other funders to find ways of addressing these challenges,” she added.

The Foundation’s Board will use the latest Vital Brief, in consultation with local partners, to set priorities for future grant-making.

The Sunshine Coast Foundation wishes to thank all community groups and service providers who assisted the production of the 2019 Vital Brief by contributing data and to those who provided funding or sponsorships, which are listed on the back page of the Vital Brief.

Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada that leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of our communities and support action towards improving our collective quality of life.

Sunshine Coast Foundation contributes to the quality of life on the Coast by building endowments, making meaningful grants, and inspiring community leadership.

The full 2019 Vital Brief, which reports on changes in our community; environment; safety; youth substance use; economic health; housing; learning; and income, is available for download here.