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B.C. is the loneliest province; developers are looking at ‘micro-communities’ to change that

B.C. ranks dead-last for life satisfaction
A render of a planned building by developer Stober Group, that focuses on adding a deep sense of community for its residents (Photo from Stober Group)

In a new Statistics Canada survey, British Columbia ranked dead last for life satisfaction in Canada – but developers are hoping new ‘micro-communities’ can alleviate the loneliness being felt in the province.

The quarterly survey identified six factors that contribute to individual quality of life: life satisfaction, sense of meaning and purpose, future outlook, loneliness, having someone to count on, and belonging to the local community.

When asked “How do you feel about life as a whole right now?” only 46.5 per cent of B.C. residents indicated they were satisfied. Newfoundland and Labrador ranked the highest at 61.7 per cent.

“The last two years were really tough,” said Shane Styles, the president of Kelowna-based Epic Real Estate Solutions. “Being locked in your apartment, it’s not fun.”

He believes people are turning away from cities and are craving smaller communities.

“The people that are coming here to the Okanagan and interior B.C. are heavy-duty lifestyle seekers,” he said. “It’s nothing like downtown Vancouver here.”

According to the World Happiness Report, even the happiest people in urban centres feel lower rates of connection than those in the least happy rural communities — on top of that, nearly three-in-four Canadians live in urban centres.

On top of relocating, he believes building design is key to assuring people can develop meaningful community connections.

New buildings being developed in Kelowna have spaces that bring residents together — pools, hot tubs, bocce lawns, dining areas and firepits are just some of the amenities.

“Imagine the community you grew up in with a small park, close neighbours, a recreation centre and maybe a small library,” he said. “Developers are looking at this and thinking, how can we recreate it on a small scale?”

The condos with these amenities are on the pricier side of the housing market, but according to Styles, it’s all about location.

“People are afraid of losing community,” he said. “Developers have proactively put in these social amenities to help.”

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