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Squamish Community Foundation releases Vital Signs report

The survey shows a snapshot of eight core themes that emerged from the data. For example, the report shows 85.3% of respondents say they use a car, truck or van to commute.
85.3% say they use a car, truck or van as the main way they commute.

The Squamish Community Foundation recently released its 2023 Vital Signs Report

The report draws on information from community members and then distills core themes. This year’s report is the fourth iteration, having previously released reports in 2011, 2014 and 2017. 

“The Vital Signs report shows a snapshot in time of community well-being,” reads the welcome message from the Vital Signs team. “Yet the Vital Signs initiative, just like the community, is far from static. Vital Signs reflects the strengths, concerns and priorities of the community.”

The information in the 2023 report came from two public conversations and 447 survey responses. The eight themes in the report are:

  • Diversity, equity and belonging
  • Environment sustainability
  • Food security
  • Health and wellness
  • Housing
  • Indigenous rights and steps toward reconciliation
  • Transportation
  • Work and labour market


The 2023 Vital Signs Report shares some details of the housing situation in Squamish.

The report shows an increase in average rental prices between 2021 and 2022 and that about 30% of households were renters in 2021. 

The report also pulls information from the District of Squamish that estimates about 685 housing units need to be created per year to catch up with the population increase. On average between 2016 and 2021, the District reported an average of 386 units per year were built.

Of the community responses, the report said that about 16% said their housing situation was not currently meeting their personal needs, nearly 3% reported having alternative housing situations such as living in a vehicle or at a campground, and about 22% said they were unable to consistently make monthly mortgage payments.

District spokesperson Rachel Boguski wrote to The Squamish Chief that housing is “a key priority” and they are working to “leverage municipal tools and policies to increase housing diversity.”

Examples of that included working with housing agencies and community partners as well as advocating for funding partnerships. 

Boguski wrote that council endorsed an application to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Housing Accelerator Grant in July 2023, which proposed initiatives such as funding for non-profit housing development on District sites, adjusting requirements to streamline permitting approval and addressing infrastructure gaps.

“The District and the Squamish Community Housing Society are also working in collaboration to explore funding opportunities to advance development of affordable housing through existing and potential upcoming Provincial programs,” she continued.

Indigenous rights and steps towards reconciliation

Another theme included community conversations about Indigenous rights and steps toward reconciliation. 

The report includes information about the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), active reserve lands, and the Nation’s housing project on Government Road.

Moreover, according to the report, about 75% of those surveyed agreed that public education programs on local history, culture, traditions and the Indian Act were a good idea or initiative for reconciliation. 

Furthermore, over half of the respondents agreed that visitor and tourist education, support and promotion of Indigenous businesses, and an Elder conversation program would be welcomed initiatives for reconciliation.

Lastly, about 43% agreed that education for local small businesses could be helpful for reconciliation.

Boguski wrote the District is building upon the newly signed Wa Iyí̓m ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Strong) Protocol Agreement and “work will begin to take inventory of the collaborative projects already in place and identify new opportunities for shared work, partnerships and reconciliation.”

One of the projects already in the works that hopes to provide education to locals and tourists alike includes the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Story Experience Enhancement Project at the Squamish Adventure Centre. 

Boguski says it is “designed to engage visitors in cultural history and environment unique to our region while also improving public awareness of the Indigenous traditions and experiences.”

The first phase of the project is hoped to be complete by the end of 2023.

“We have consulted with Squamish Nation on proposed content for the Squamish Story and are currently putting the finishing touches on the exhibit,” continued Boguski. 

Phase two will be more focused on the outside of the building and begin next spring.

Health and wellness

Health and access to healthcare have also been a topic of discussion in Squamish and B.C.

Some of the good news about Squamish is that there’s a lower rate of daily or occasional smokers at 5.5% compared with 10.6% in B.C. Additionally, Squamish’s obesity rate is at 16% compared to the 28% rate for Canada.

However, the community responses show that nearly 30% said they do not have access to a family physician if needed and about 25% said they do not have access to mental health services if needed.

Moreover, about 41% reported “less than good” self-perceived physical health and about 28% reported “less than good” self-perceived mental health.

The Squamish Chief asked the District and the Ministry of Health about the lack of access to a family physician and mental health services. The District referred The Chief to the Ministry.

The Ministry of Health sent a 2,374-word response on Aug. 17 that said Squamish is a part of the Sea to Sky Division for primary care networks and it is “working with physicians in the community and actively recruiting to add to the number of available practitioners taking patients in the community.”

Furthermore, the ministry touted numerous investments into primary care and health-care in general it has made in B.C., which have contributed to new clinics and care centres in the province.

As for mental health access, the ministry named 13 options for access provided in Squamish by Vancouver Coastal Health, including substance use options:

  • Assessment & Treatment Matching Team (ATM)
  • Adult Community Support Services Team
  • Adult Short Term Assessment & Treatment Team (ASTAT)
  • Consumer Initiatives Program
  • Intensive Case Management Team (ICM)
  • Occupational Therapy Case Management and Consultation (OTCC)
  • Older Adult Outreach Program (OAOP)
  • Opioid Agonist Therapy Clinic (OAT)
  • Overdose Outreach Team (OOT)
  • Psychiatry Team
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP)
  • Home-based Alcohol Withdrawal Management Program
  • Youth Foundry Program

“It should be noted that none of these are drop in services, and to access any of these services, people can call the VCH MHSU office at 778-894-3200, and if these services aren’t appropriate for them the team will direct them to the right service,” reads the statement.

Food security

Food security has been a hot topic in Squamish and B.C. alike over the last year. 

The Vital Signs report says that about $1,441 is the average monthly cost of food for a family of four in the Sunshine Coast, Powell River and Howe Sound Health Area. In the community survey, about 38% of people answered that they are not always able to purchase adequate food to meet their nutritional needs.

Additionally, about 43% of responders did not grow their own food.


By far the main mode of commuting for locals remains by vehicle, as 85.3% say they use a car, truck or van as the main mode. On the other hand, only 5.4% reported walking and only 4.4% reported cycling as the main mode of commuting.

About 36% of the population commutes outside of Squamish for employment.

The report notes that transportation accounts for about 52% of the community’s carbon emissions.

From the community survey, about 89% reported that they never use local transit and only 15.7% find transit useful or very useful. When it came to what type of transit people would use, a train was the highest response with about 84% of responders saying they would use it. More bus options was second at about 63%.

Council recently discussed the future of local transit at a July 11 committee of the whole meeting.

For more information on the 2023 Vital Signs Report, including information on the other categories, visit

Note: This story has been updated to reflect responses from the District of Squamish and Ministry of Health on Aug. 17.


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