Should the municipalities of Metro Vancouver be merged? Half of locals think so, poll finds

New findings from the Angus Reid Institute show that half of Metro Vancouver residents are willing to combine some or all of the region’s 21 municipalities.

An online poll conducted last month found that 42% favored partial amalgamation and 8% favored amalgamation of all municipal governments in Metro Vancouver.

Among respondents, there is the most enthusiasm for merging communities in the Tri-Cities (35%), North Shore (34%) and Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge (31%).

Nearly half, or 48%, of respondents from the North Shore say they are in favor of a merger of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Meanwhile, 41%, or two in five Tri-Cities residents, believe that Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody should merge.

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, says openness to more consolidated government coincides with satisfaction with one’s government and whether he thinks it’s more effective for multiple communities to tackle to major issues like housing and crime as one governing body.

“You deal with different municipal issues and there can be formal or informal sharing of resources,” Kurl said.

“In many cases, there’s an increasing number of people living in these places saying, ‘Actually, maybe it would make more sense to come together, pool our resources and have a more political consistent. “”

Suburbs near Vancouver less open to amalgamation

Respondents were much less open to the idea of ​​a Vancouver-Burnaby (17%) and Surrey-Langley Township-Langley City (23%) combination.

Kurl says she’s not surprised that suburbs near Vancouver are less open to amalgamation.

“Vancouver tends to march to the beat of its own drum,” Kurl said. “Merging with Vancouver is basically inheriting Vancouver’s problems or it could be the mindset.”

Kurl also notes the money involved. “They see [Vancouver’s] money for policing, public safety and road improvements and say they are not interested in subsidizing the costs to the City of Vancouver. »

Kurl adds that those with a negative perception of government performance are more open to the idea of ​​a merger – or say they are unsure.

“If you’re happy with the way your town is running and you feel like you’re getting what you pay for, then you’re much less likely to say, ‘Yeah, let’s merge with the place next door or on the other side of the river.'”

The institute also found that those who oppose any form of merger are more likely to praise housing and crime issues while continuing to criticize their government, compared to those who want the merger.

Housing, homelessness and crime are seen as top issues

The institute also surveyed residents of Metro Vancouver about what they see as the top priorities for local governments.

Housing affordability is highest across all areas, with 49% saying it is the biggest issue facing the region, followed by homelessness and poverty (31%) and crime and security (29%).

Majority say their previous city governments mishandled housing policy (81%), poverty (77%), the opioid crisis (70%) – including the highest number of respondents in Vancouver, at 82% – and crime and security (64%).

Opinions on the police and crime

On policing, 59% say more resources should be allocated to social welfare services, while the rest say they should be spent on increasing police presence in areas with high crime.

The results also show a wider perception that crime has increased – 61% say they believe there has been more crime in their community over the past five years, with the highest number of respondents recorded in Surrey at 69%.

Of those who believe there has been more crime, 49% believe the trend is unique to Metro Vancouver, while 43% say they believe the increase is a national trend.

The institute also notes that the police-reported crime rate has fluctuated in recent years, increasing from 2018 to 2020 but falling in 2021.

Metro Vancouver’s Crime Severity Index score, calculated by Statistics Canada, is above the national average, but well below other municipalities such as Kelowna in interior British Columbia, Lethbridge, Alta ., Moncton, NB and Winnipeg, Man.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from October 6-12 with a random sample of 1,376 adults residing in Metro Vancouver who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points, or 19 times out of 20.

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