Key findings for British Columbia from the 2009 Scorecard included:
* BC rises to a new high in health: British Columbia residents live an average of 81.6 years, two years longer than residents of the Northwest states and topping all other North American states and provinces. In fact, if BC were an independent nation, it would have the second longest lifespan in the world, after Japan, and be tied with Iceland. The healthiest jurisdiction in British Columbia is the suburban city of Richmond, BC, where lifespans exceed 84 years.
* Province’s smart-growth lead may be slipping: Within Cascadia, metropolitan Vancouver, BC, has long led the way in smart growth, with more residents in transit- and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods than in comparable US cities. But the most recent Census held a surprise: Between 2001 and 2006, the pace of smart growth slowed. Compact neighborhoods accounted for just 56 percent of new urban and suburban development, compared with 67 percent during the 1990s. There was, however, impressive growth in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in some parts of the metro area during that time.
* BC bests Northwest states in personal energy efficiency: Largely because of the province’s success at creating compact communities that encourage walking and transit use, British Columbians use almost one third less energy per person than the Northwest states (counting highway fuels and electricity in homes and businesses). Per person, British Columbians cut back on gasoline use by nearly a tenth since 1998. But the province still uses about 50 percent more energy per person than world leaders such as Germany.
* Economic progress stalls: In 2006, the last year for which complete data were available, the province marked its fourth consecutive year of improved economic security. Yet the share of residents below the “low-income cutoff” was nearly the same as it was in 1990, while the percentage of children living below the low-income cutoff had grown by more than three percentage points.
* Lowest teen birthrate: Northwest teen birthrates rose in 2006 and again in 2007, a trend that broke a long-standing decline that had been underway since the 1990s. But BC boasts the region’s lowest teen birthrate by far—less than one-third that of the Northwest states.
Sightline’s Williams-Derry said that while British Columbia has performed better than the Northwest states overall, the province’s leaders should pay close attention to the areas where it needs improvement.