By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: August 10, 2018
We are not too keen on smoking and generally like to keep fit, but stiff drinks, it seems, are always in order. Obesity and smoking rates in Squamish are low compared to provincial averages but booze is a different story.
While Squamish continues to outperform the provincial averages on almost all health indicators, drinking is one exception.
Squamish residents report heavy alcohol consumption rates—19.9 per cent compared to the provincial rate of 17.4 per cent and the national rate of 17.9 per cent, according to Vital Signs 2017 report.
Heavy drinking refers to males who reported having five or more drinks, or women who reported having four or more drinks, on one occasion, at least once a month in the past year.
The rate for current smokers in Squamish, however, has been showing a slight downward trend since 2007 and 2008 and has, in fact, decreased by 2.1 percentage points since that time. Obesity rates also show a downward trend.
The increase in drinking is among the several interesting trends captured in the Vital Signs 2017 report, an initiative of the Squamish Community Foundation.
Squamish Vital Signs is produced every three years to allow for trends to emerge, said Ashley Oakes, manager of Squamish Community Foundation.
“Squamish Vital Signs 2017 serves as a road map for individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and government on areas of priority for improvement,” Oakes said.
The report is a treasure house of data on Squamish.
Squamish, it reports, is Canada’s sixth fastest growing communities and has one of the fastest growing child populations in the province. The child population (aged 0-14) grew by nearly 14 per cent since 2011, far above the national average of four per cent, according to Vital Sign 2017.
Predictably, the report also found the availability of rental housing is alarmingly low in town. Housing affordability was identified as the number one area of concern in and 80 per cent of respondents said chances of finding affordable housing in the community were either poor or slim.
Poverty also continues to be an issue in the community where the cost of living is increasing at a rate faster than the national and provincial average.
Since the release of Squamish Vital Signs 2014, Squamish has made improvements to the child poverty and overall poverty rates but the town has seen a slight increase in poverty rates among the elderly.
In the surveys conducted as part of the Vital Signs initiative, 39 per cent of respondents said they were unable to afford to participate in the activities that they enjoy and that this financial strain affects their quality of life.
Recent data, however, also shows that employment growth remains strong in the region.