Engage Nova Scotia conducts survey on liveability of province

Group asks 1,000 people how they rate Nova Scotia as a place to live

This is part of a five-week series between CBC's Mainstreet and Engage Nova Scotia, which will feature highlights of what Engage Nova Scotia heard when it asked 1,000 Nova Scotians about their attitudes to the province, its challenges and our openness to change.

The following is written by Danny Graham, the chief engagement officer of Engage Nova Scotia:

How would you rate Nova Scotia as a place to live?

We asked 1,000 Nova Scotians that question because we believe that what we think has a lot to do with how we act.

It's easy to get down on ourselves when economic data shows us lagging the rest of the country, but the responses we received are encouraging. On a scale of one to 10, 64 per cent of us rate Nova Scotia an eight, nine or 10 as a place to live.


Engage Nova Scotia blog post - April 18, 2016


When we asked what makes Nova Scotia special, two answers rose above the rest. The first was our nice/friendly people. The second was our scenery/geography and proximity to the ocean.

I sometimes forget that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world — amongst some of the most down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is people in North America.

The depth of affection for Nova Scotia as a place to live, however, is not uniform and our research suggests that our liking for this place varies depending where we live and how old we are. Roughly 75 per cent of people in the Annapolis Valley and along the North Shore (Amherst to Guysborough) rate Nova Scotia an eight to 10, while only 54 per cent of folks in Halifax rate it that highly.


Engage Nova Scotia blog post - April 18, 2016


More telling is the contrast between older and younger Nova Scotians. The slogan of our most famous beer — "Those who like it, like it a lot" — applies more to older Nova Scotians than youth. Seventy-six per cent of those over 55 rate Nova Scotia an eight to 10 as a place to live, but only 48 per cent between 18 and 34 share that opinion.


Engage Nova Scotia blog post - April 18, 2016


Perhaps this is a phenomenon that exists in other parts of the country, but there's no doubt about the importance of the issue. The persistent outmigration of youth, as depicted in the graph below, is threatening the long-term viability of our health-care and education systems. More importantly, the loss of each youth means the loss of new ideas.


Engage Nova Scotia blog post - April 18, 2016


Our goal should not be to convince all our youth to forever stay in Nova Scotia. Our province benefits when our sons and daughters leave to work and live elsewhere and return with new thinking, energy and skills that grow the province.

For those who stay, we must do more to help them become productive members of the workforce — through better workforce training and job placement opportunities. This is especially true for youth with disabilities, and those from our Mi'kmaq and African-Nova Scotian communities.

Youth in a central role

This raises the question of whether we are ready to let youth play a central role in making the province more successful.

How many of us expect youth to pay their dues before earning "a place at the table"? What would happen if we actually welcomed youth-led organizations like StudentsNS, 21Inc, Fusion, GoverNEXT, NextGen Cape Breton, We Are NS and the HeartWood Centre for Community and Youth Development to decision making tables now, not only as the target of our efforts, but as leading participants in making our province better?

This remarkable part of the country will not see its future until it welcomes its future to the table.

Danny Graham is the chief engagement officer of Engage Nova Scotia, an unaffiliated, province-wide charitable organization that is working to cultivate engagement, catalyze change and support the emergence of a new Nova Scotia narrative.

Engage aspires to a future in which we better understand ourselves and our situation; we are more collaborative, inclusive and embracing of change; and where more people are stepping up with greater ability to improve our shared quality of life.

This article was originally posted on cbc.ca/news/ on April 18, 2016. Reposted with permission.


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