"Family-friendly" designation goes to Vancouver from conservative group

Post by Mike Klassen in

4 comments

marriage rings
An institute promoting marriage and family are now judging cities

A clipping from yesterday's Vancouver Sun caught my eye and so apparently it caught reporter Chad Skelton's eye as well. Titled Vancouver named among most family-friendly cities in the country I immediately took interest in the name of the group behind it. The Institute of Marriage and Family sounded like it would have been a faith-based group of some kind behind it.

Thankfully, Skelton has done all the digging and more that I may have and I highly recommend reading his blog post. Here's what Chad found:

Supporting public funding of private schools is certainly a valid point of view. But what does that have to do with a city being family friendly? And while there is plenty of evidence two-parent households are better for kids than single-parent households, focusing on the number of single parents seemed a bit odd for a city ranking (especially since it's hard to see how, say, moving to Winnipeg is going to increase your chances of divorce).

I started to wonder who was behind the rankings and whether they had an agenda beyond just gathering the facts.

The institute's website looks pretty professional -- a lot like those of many government-funded, independent research institutes. I didn't see anything on the site that suggested they had a particular religious or political point of view. A Google search turned up some blog posts suggesting the institute was funded by the right-wing religious group, Focus on the Family Canada. But I wanted something a bit more solid.

So I did a bit more digging and turned up several stories linking the institute to Focus on the Family and right-wing religious causes.

Good for Chad for looking into this further. I too wondered how Vancouver – which I know is a wonderfully family-friendly city – got this designation when the typical rant about us is that the housing is too expensive and taxes too high.

Chad's pretty clear that he takes no issue on the beliefs behind the organization – they're entitled to their views. He's more concerned about transparency:

I'd be equally annoyed if, say, a research group tied to Egale Canada came out with a list of "family-friendly" cities -- giving bonus marks to cities with high rates of same-sex marriages or adoptions -- and didn't disclose its support for gay rights.

In Canada, by in large we're pretty quick to pounce when we think that right-wing or religious groups are feeding us information. When it comes to large foundations supporting environmental causes we do not seem to devote as much energy it seems to what motivates these groups. I welcome more scrutiny from Skelton and other media on all these entities spending big bucks trying to sway public opinion.

- post by Mike

4 Comments

Although not your main point, just to add to the irony is another Vancouver Sun article which indicates that Vancouver rates fourth from the bottom for population of people from age 0 - 19 from a range of metro Vancouver cities.

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/parenting/archive/2010/06/02/which-metro-vancouver-city-has-the-most-children.aspx

If you look closely, the study encompasses entire metropolitan regions. So Vancouver's "high-mark" is really thanks to other municipalities in the GVRD who make an effort to zone reasonable family-friendly, multi-bedroom accommodations.

A more telling sign is a paragraph from the article that Dennis linked to above:

"The most obvious thing is that even the least kid-friendly cities in the region -- like White Rock (14.3%) and Victoria (13.8%) don't come anywhere close to the least kid-friendly neighbourhoods in Vancouver, where as few as 5.9% of the population are children. And even the most kid-friendly neighbourhood in Vancouver -- Dunbar-Southlands at 24.3% -- is only marginally above the Metro Vancouver average."

A healthy city has housing and services for families in all of its neighbourhoods. Even New York and London go out of their way to ensure families can live in its urban core. You can call this a rant all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Vancouver is not doing a good job in forcing developers to build more multi-bedroom units instead of the transient, hotel-style bachelors and one-bedrooms that dominate the housing market now.

I was looking for a good local rss feed to add to my daily news, and yours seemed like a good one, since I remember you published great info during the olympics.

After reading two posts where you do a character hit piece on David Suzuki (where I assume he was having a bad day and seems to hate fish farmers), and this one with your going on about the family values of vancouver and how Canadians are critical of religious groups trying to influence public policy but less so when groups try to get governments to protect the environment.

I'm afraid my search for some good local info continues, and I'll be remaking you from my reader...

Good luck

Vancouver Family friendly? Yeh right and pigs can fly! To buy a reasonable priced and decent 3 - 4 bedroom home for a family in Vancouver is impossible – try living in a small cramped 2 bedroom apartment with children. It is borderline child abuse as we can’t even allow our children to make any noise as neighbors complain – even the crying of new born babies!

As working parents we feel that we are being forced to move out of Vancouver and look for more appropriate housing in the suburbs as we cannot afford a home in Vancouver.

There are not enough safe parks as they are littered with needles and addicts shooting up. There is not enough play areas for children to be outside and play!

Most of the restaurants in Vancouver are not child friendly and don’t even provide change tables for babies!

As a working parent try and get your children into programs like swimming or skating lessons. We have to drive all the way to Richmond or Ladner as Vancouver only offer limited classes on weekends. The only places you can take children for a fun outing is Science World, the Aquarium, or Ikea’s children’s play area. Only Oakridge has a sub-standard children’s play area – Malls in the US are big in providing entertainment for children.

Try getting on the skytrain or bus with children and a stroller. You will be even lucky is someone will give up their seat to help you! Plus you have Vancouver pushing people to get out of their cars and use bikes. If you think I am going to have my 4 year old on a bike to get to pre-school you have another thing coming! Families need cars to transport children around and now we have to pay more for parking – IF you can find parking!

Daycare in Vancouver – limited – you have to sit on a wait list for what can be up to 3 years!

After school programs – almost non-existent compared to other cities

Preschool starts at 8:45am – try getting your child to school on time when you start work at 8am and it takes 30 minutes to get to work from the school!

The quality of education in the Vancouver Schools is much lower in quality as compared to Richmond or New Westminster. We either place our children in schools outside of Vancouver when the time is ready or both of us will have to take on a second job so that we can afford private school.

Saying Vancouver is a family friendly city is a real joke – they are just riding on the coattails of the successes of other cities in the GVRD.

Finally, Parents if you have a dog and children in the park and near the play area - watch out - you will get a $220+ ticket. Dogs are not allowed anywhere near the playground. Which means you might have to find a babysitter while you take your pooch out for walkies!

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