News Release

REF NO.: 63

SUBJECT: St. John's residents pleased about increase in social and cultural diversity, survey shows

DATE: April 10, 2018

A survey of people living in St. John’s, N.L., shows that residents are uncertain about the economy, but are pleased to see an increase in social and cultural diversity.

Memorial University sociology Dr. Mark Stoddard headed up the local survey, which is part of Dalhousie University's Perceptions of Change project.

“With our current economic and demographic challenges, the main storyline we often hear is of impending crisis. However, our results tell a different story,” said Dr. Stoddart. “Despite concerns about change, we also see a great deal of optimism about the diversification of St. John’s and an openness to social and cultural change that is essential to meeting the challenges ahead.”

The researchers conducted a telephone survey of 473 St. John’s residents to determine what changes they observed in the city and in their neighbourhood over the last 5-10 years.

Researchers also aimed to better understand how people feel about the changes they see. The survey has a 95 per cent confidence level, or 19 times out of 20, with a plus or minus 2.5 per cent margin of error.

The survey found that St. John’s residents are highly attuned to economic fluctuations, and many participants noted an economic “boom and bust” during the survey period. Residents said that the city experienced unprecedented growth in business, housing and population, but noted an economic downturn in the last couple of years. Participants often attributed these economic changes to fluctuations in the oil industry.

St. John’s residents also noted significant increases in cultural diversity: 82 per cent of participants believe the city is more socially and culturally diverse. Participants were generally satisfied with these social and cultural changes in their neighbourhood; 53 per cent believed the changes were for the better.

Participants expressed concerns about increases in crime and drug use, as well as concerns about infrastructure failing to keep pace with the city’s growth. St. John’s residents were also concerned about the affordability of housing in the city. Only 18 per cent were in agreement that their neighbourhood had become more affordable.

The Perceptions of Change project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Surveys were also conducted in Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Moncton, N.B.; and Halifax, N.S.  

A full report can be viewed the project’s website.

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