British Columbians Enthusiastic and Selective About Activism

Three-in-ten British Columbians would protest a low-income housing project located within three blocks of their home.

Vancouver, BC [July 19, 2022] – A significant proportion of British Columbians are engaged in campaigns to bring about political or social change, but their willingness to protest plans to establish specific facilities in their neighbourhood is not substantial, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 30% of British Columbians say they have used social media to protest or support an issue, while 25% have donated money to an organization that supports or opposes an issue.

About one-in-seven British Columbians have attended a public consultation meeting or process (15%) or a protest (14%), while fewer acknowledge joining a political party or campaign (7%), participating in a political campaign (6%) or taking legal action against a development or project (5%)

“Two thirds of British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (67%) have been involved in some form of activism,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The proportions are lower among their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (48%) and aged 55 and over (41%).”

The survey also asked British Columbians about which actions they would take under hypothetical circumstances related to their municipality and their neighbourhood.

More than half of the province’s residents would take no action if there were plans to install a military base (57%), a casino (62%), a recycling plant (64%) or wind turbines (67%) within the boundaries of their municipality.

British Columbians are more likely to consider passive protest—such as sending letters to politicians or complaining on social media—to register concerns about a natural gas pipeline (19%), an incinerator for waste treatment (21%), a prison (22%), an oil pipeline, a landfill site, an oil refinery or a nuclear power plant (23% each) or a coal terminal (26%).

Active protest, which includes donating to opponents and attending town halls, would be the recourse of 24% of British Columbians to deal with a coal terminal and of 29% to deal with a nuclear power plant.

When asked about the possibility of specific facilities seeking a permit to operate three blocks away from their home, majorities of British Columbians would take no action on a cell phone tower (54%), a low-income housing project (58%), a marijuana store (60%), a recycling depot (63%), a retail or mall development (65%), an entertainment complex (69%), a pub or bar (also 69%) or a hospital (75%).

At least one-in-five British Columbians would passively protest if a composting site (20%), a homeless shelter (22%) or a sewage plant (27%) attempted to operate within three blocks of their home. Similar proportions of residents would actively protest against a composting site and a homeless shelter (20% each) and a sewage plant (25%).

Three-in-ten British Columbians (30%) are willing to passively (16%) or actively (14%) protest a low-income housing project seeking a permit to set-up within three blocks of their home, while 58% would take no action.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from July 4 to July 6, 2022, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]