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Nearly half of local residents say North and West Vancouver should be combined: Angus Reid poll

In general, North Shore respondents rated their local governments more favourably than in other regions – except on traffic
Condos and apartments fill the skyline of West Vancouver's waterfront between Dundarave and Ambleside. Half of North Shore survey respondents say they want less municipal governments in the Metro Vancouver region. | North Shore News files

While previous polls have made it clear that a majority of North Vancouverites want to eschew the divide between district and city, a new survey suggests the entire North Shore could be leaning toward amalgamation.

Results from a poll by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, released Wednesday, show that 48 per cent of North Shore residents support combining nearby municipalities. More specifically, 43 per cent said North Van city and district as well as West Van (including Lions Bay) should amalgamate – while five per cent of residents said all Metro Vancouver local governments should unite under one mayor and council. That’s the highest enthusiasm for amalgamation across all surveyed regions.

Overall, the poll showed half of Metro Vancouverites support amalgamation of some sort. When all were asked which regions should combine, 35 per cent said the Tri-Cities, 34 per cent said the North Shore and 31 per cent were in favour of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Just eight per cent said they would combine all Metro municipalities, while 31 per cent said none of them should. The rest said they weren’t sure. The current system recently saw voters in the region participate in 21 separate elections.

Respondents also weighed in on other issues. When it comes to more immediate priorities, Angus Reid said constituents are hoping their elected representatives will begin their terms focusing on three core issues: housing, homelessness and crime. Overall, half (49 per cent) called housing a top priority, while three in 10 said so of homelessness and poverty (31 per cent) or crime and safety (29 per cent).

Asked to evaluate performance of previous governments on these matters, respondents produced a bleak report card. Four in five (81 per cent) said local governments performed poorly on housing. Three-quarters (77 per cent) disapproved of performance on poverty. Two-thirds (64 per cent) weren’t pleased with records on housing and safety.

On the topic of police spending, three in five (59 per cent) Metro Vancouverites believe more resources should go toward social welfare, compared to two in five (41 per cent) wanting more funds to support greater police presence in high-crime areas.

Although Statistics Canada’s crime severity index for Metro Vancouver shows a general downward trend from 2016 to 2021 – violent crimes especially have trended downward compared to the previous five years – three in five respondents (61 per cent) believe there’s been more crime in their area in the past five years.

That being said, the number of North Shore residents believing crime is on the rise (49 per cent) is less so than other regions. In general, people living in North and West Van rated their governments more favourably on most issues, except for traffic/transportation. On that issue, a whopping 80 per cent said their municipal leadership did a “poor” or “very poor” job. No respondents said local government did a “very good” job.

The sample size for the poll is 1,376 in total: 460 residents from Vancouver city, 315 from Burnaby/Richmond/New Westminster, 130 from Tri-Cities/Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, 357 from Surrey/White Rock/Delta/Langley and 114 from West Van/North Van.

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