Propensity for Activism Rises in Some Instances in British Columbia

Local projects related to nuclear power, coal and oil would motivate one-in-four residents to actively protest.

Vancouver, BC [November 8, 2023] – Compared to 2022, fewer British Columbians would refrain from actively or passively protesting under specific circumstances, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, more than half of British Columbians would take no action if seven establishments were to seek a permit to set up within three blocks of their home: a hospital (68%, -7 since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in July 2022), a pub or bar (65%, -4), an entertainment complex (64%, -5), a mall (62%, -3), a recycling depot (58%, -5), a marijuana store (54%, -6) or a cell phone tower (53%, -1).

Perceptions are more nuanced on four other establishments that could be located within three blocks of a respondent’s home. Practically half would take no action against a low-income housing project (49%, -9), while fewer feel the same way about a composting site (38%, -5), a homeless shelter (36%, -7) or a sewage or wastewater treatment plant (28%, -3).

“Just over one-in-four British Columbians (26%) would actively protest if a homeless shelter was considered in the vicinity of their homes,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Residents of the Fraser Valley (30%) and Southern BC (28%) are more likely to say they would donate to opponents or attend town halls in this instance.”

When asked about specific establishments that could be located within the boundaries of their municipality, more than half of British Columbians would take no action against wind turbines (63%, -4), a recycling plant (61%, -3), a casino (also 61%, -1) or a military base (58%, +1).

More than two-in-five British Columbians would not actively or passively protest a natural gas pipeline (47%, +4) or an oil pipeline (43%, +4) in their municipality.

Fewer than two-in-five British Columbians would openly welcome six other establishments to their municipality: an incinerator for waste treatment (38%, =), a prison (also 38%, -3), a landfill site for waste disposal (37%, =), an oil refinery (36%, +2), a nuclear power plant (34%, +4) or a coal terminal (32%, +1).

About one-in-four British Columbians say they would actively protest if a nuclear power (27%), a coal terminal (26%) or an oil refinery (24%) were considered for their municipality.

When British Columbians are asked if they have done certain things over the course of their lives, the two highest responses are using social media to protest or support an issue (25%) and donating money to an organization that supports or opposes an issue (23%).

Fewer than one-in-five British Columbians have participated in other activities, such as attending a public consultation meeting or process (17%) attending a protest (16%), joining a political party (9%), joining a political campaign (6%) or taking legal action against a development or project (4%).

Practically a third of British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (32%) have used social media to protest or support an issue. A similar proportion of residents aged 55 and over (31%) have attended public consultations or meetings.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from October 12 to October 14, 2023, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

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

For more information on this poll, please contact:
Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.