Powell River incomes have continued to rise, but are still noticeably less than Canadian and BC averages. We are achieving some business diversification, which ties in with the City’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.
Child poverty—identified as a serious problem in the 2011 Vital Signs report—remains a huge problem, and it continues to get worse. The rate in Powell River is well above the average for BC and Canada. Our overall and senior poverty rates are better than provincial and national averages, but are trending upwards.
Our rate of post-secondary qualifications is increasing, and that’s good. Our high-schoolers may take more than a single year to complete Grade 12, but they get it done. However, even fewer students are taking and passing English 12, so often required for the post-secondary education they say they want.
We’re doing better on parks and on recycling, but the warming world presents us with more and bigger challenges. While recent in-town logging doesn’t register in statistics, it certainly registers with local citizens as an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.
Powell River’s life expectancy continues to be good, and we check many boxes on the “Healthy Lifestyle” list. Many residents don’t have a regular medical doctor and many have to use the Emergency Room as their doctor’s office.
Home ownership is still a great bargain compared to other places. The rental situation continues to worsen, with rents up and the vacancy rate down. Our housing stock needs more major repairs than average. Rental housing is three times more likely to need repair than owner-occupied units.
Over half of Powell River’s income earners do not make a living wage, and women still earn much less than men. The gender wage gap is worse than the BC average and has gotten bigger since the 2011 report. Our unemployment rate is above the BC average, too, and also larger than it was in the last report. On a positive note, fewer people have been searching for jobs recently, which may signal an improvement.
Youth unemployment, while still higher than the all-ages rate, is down in our health region since the 2011 report and better than the provincial and national rates. Actual numbers of immigrants from overseas to Powell River are much lower than commonly thought.
Crime rates and severity are still on a downward trend, and still well below BC and national averages, but drug crimes have increased slightly. Very few local youth are involved in drug crimes. Emergency preparedness has shown a higher profile recently.
There are good channels of cooperation among Tla’amin, the RD and the City. We continue to turn out for provincial and national elections at rates higher than the averages, but our turnout for City elections in 2014 was down. While slightly fewer people claimed charitable donations, we still beat the provincial rate, and the amount we donated was well above the national average. We have a stronger sense than average of belonging to our community.
Powell River has a reputation to live up to, and we certainly have a lot of cultural activity happening. However, the survey shows that younger people are not as satisfied by what’s on offer—something to work on if we want to keep them here.
Ferries continue to be a major issue, with fare increases and fewer sailings. Walking and cycling rates are now close to the provincial averages, but we still don’t use our buses as much as we could.
Powell Riverites are doing better than BC and Canada at eating 5+ servings of fruit and vegetables per day. We have a very active local food scene, but not enough production to compete with big supermarkets.