BC Canadian Water Attitudes Study by RBC Blue Water Project, May 2016
Most Canadians take water for granted. We think we have lots of it and it will always be there. So in 2008, RBC started polling Canadians about their attitudes towards water—to see if the serious water issues around the world were having an impact on how we use and think about water, and tracking whether our attitudes are changing.
Since 2008, RBC has made the poll results freely available to NGOs and other interested parties. We have encouraged the broad dissemination of the data and its findings because we want to help contribute to a healthy conversation about the value and vulnerability of water in Canada.
In 2007, RBC launched the RBC Blue Water Project, a 10-year, $50 million charitable commitment to protect the world’s freshwater. [Given the many contamination cases and phenomenal volumes of fresh water permanently lost by hydraulic fracturing, what good will $50 million do? Set up RBC to trade in and profit from water?]
We soon learned that many Canadians take water for granted. So in 2008, we started polling them about their attitudes towards water—to see if the serious water issues around the world and emerging ones at home were having an impact on how we use and think about this precious resource, and if our grants were making a difference. [Or, to monitor when corporations like RBC might begin profiting from the sale of the world’s fast vanishing fresh water?]
I am pleased to provide the results of our ninth annual poll, which is full of interesting information that can hopefully drive meaningful conservations about the value and vulnerability of water in Canada.
For the first time, Canadians ranked climate change as the biggest threat to our freshwater supply. This is not surprising given the events of the past year, including record high temperatures, the historic Paris climate change agreement, the announcement of new carbon regulations in Ontario and Alberta, and a change in federal government that is promising action on climate change.
Other notable findings include that Canadians remain confident in the quality of their drinking water, despite the fact that almost a quarter have experienced boil water advisories. In addition, 83% of Canadians are concerned about water conditions on First
Nations reserves, a 12% increase since 2010. As in past years, we are making the full results of this poll freely available, with the hope that our findings will help inform the
work of NGOs, academics, governments and other interested parties. You are welcome to refer to, reprint or redistribute this information. We only we ask that you attribute the source as the “2016 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study.”
Please visit rbc.com/bluewater for an archive of the RBC Canadian Water Attitude Study results since 2008. [Interesting timing, with frac’ing spreading like wildfire around that time]
Director, Corporate Environmental Affairs
Survey suggests Calgarians rate oil and gas more important than water by Colette Derworiz, May 20, 2016, Calgary Herald
A new survey shows Calgarians value the country’s fresh water supply far less than the rest of the country, with a clear majority suggesting oil and gas is Canada’s most important natural resource.
The 2016 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study found almost half of the 2,100 of Canadians surveyed ranked water as our most valuable natural resource and an increasing number saw climate change as a top threat to fresh water.
“Fresh water is still seen as Canada’s most important natural resource by far,” said the survey, noting it’s up to 49 per cent from 47 per cent a year earlier.
Except in Calgary, where 55 per cent of respondents said oil and gas is the main natural resource.
Only 28 per cent chose water.
Areni Kelleppan, executive director of Green Calgary Association, said the results could be a recognition that the city is located in an oil-and-gas province.
“Perhaps, just given the economic downturn, we may be a little more defensive about that resource,” she said, “but if we thought about it in terms of ‘Could we live without oil or could we live without water?’ I think the answer is pretty clear that we couldn’t live without water.
“In the context of Alberta, just now in the economic downturn, we are a little protective of oil.”
Still, Calgarians were also less likely than other city dwellers to be concerned about water issues.
Sixty-five per cent were very or somewhat concerned about the quality of water in lakes, rivers and streams;
Sixty per cent were very or somewhat concerned about extreme weather causing droughts or flooding;
Sixty-one per cent were very or somewhat concerned about the long-term quality of drinking water.
In each case, it was the lowest among all surveyed cities — despite the fact that 94 per cent of Calgarians use a municipal water supply as their main source of household water.
Stephen Legault, a program director for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, said the survey results present an opportunity to talk about the importance of Alberta’s water.
“All of our freshwater comes from a very narrow strip of land called the Eastern Slopes, this very thin margin of mountainous landscape that sits on our western border as a province,” he said. “This is a place we absolutely have to take seriously the fragile state of our water.”
Legault noted that Calgarians have just lived through the worst flooding event in Canadian history and can sometimes experience drought in the same year as floods.
“This should be sending us a clear signal that water is a fragile resource,” said Legault. “We’ve got to take that really seriously.”
Other survey results showed that half of all respondents are very concerned about water conditions on First Nations and three-quarters believe there should be more support for organizations that address the issue of safe drinking water in those communities.
The survey, which was conducted online between March 24 and April 11, involved 2,194 Canadians — including a minimum of 200 respondents each in Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, and a minimum of 300 in Toronto.
Its margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20. [Emphasis added]