A missed chance to shape the future

White Rock residents are not participating in Urban Futures survey of Lower Mainland residents

The third in a series of surveys that have shaped Metro Vancouver for decades has been underway for almost 10 months without so much as a nibble of interest from White Rock residents.

Organizers of the 2012 Metro Vancouver Urban Futures Survey say, so far, no one from White Rock has filled out the questionnaire which went online in January of this year.

They are missing out on an opportunity to decide the priorities of the region for years to come, according to Mike Harcourt, former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor.

Harcourt is the current chair of the PlaceSpeak board of directors, which operates www.placespeak.com, a new public-consultation website that is running the online questionnaire.

Harcourt said the first Urban Futures survey, conducted in 1973, helped set Vancouver on its path toward environmental protection and protection of open space and away from freeways and urban sprawl.

In the 1973 questionnaire, approximately 1,500 residents of what was then known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) were surveyed about their attitudes toward a range of economic, social, mobility and lifestyle issues.

Their responses led to the creation of the Livable Region program.

“That first Urban Futures survey gave us, as decision-makers, the confidence to pursue policies that might have otherwise been dismissed as impractical, Utopian or too costly,” Harcourt said Thursday.

He noted the second survey of Lower Mainland residents in 1990 identified concerns about air and water pollution and led policy makers to create the AirCare program to reduce vehicle pollution, upgrade sewage treatment and double the amount of park land in the region.

Researchers conducted the 1990 Urban Futures Survey by carrying out 1,053 face-to-face and 238 telephone interviews.

Twenty-one years after that, the 2012 Urban Futures Survey is online-only, using a process organizers say will provide researchers with quicker access to a much larger sample size at a lower cost.

According to the organizers, the 2012 questionnaire takes about 22 minutes to complete and can be found at www.urbanfuturessurvey.com

Residents must first register online by verifying their home address.

The newest Urban Futures survey is sponsored by the Vancouver chapter of Lambda Alpha International (the honorary society for the advancement of land economics founded in 1930), the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, Translink, the Vancity Credit Union and the cities of Vancouver, Surrey and North Vancouver.

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