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British Columbians enthusiastic yet selective about what they protest: survey

30% would protest a low-income housing project within three blocks of their home
A local climate advocacy group stood with 80 protesters at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street in protest of the annual RibFest Kelowna in August 2019. (Black Press Media files)

Activism and protest movements have captivated the nation over the years – for good reasons and bad – and a new poll suggests that while many British Columbians show up to share their thoughts – not all types are equal.

According to a Research Co. survey released earlier this month, 30 per cent of British Columbians say they have used social media for activism, while 25 per cent have donated money to an organization that supports or opposes an issue.

British Columbians also said they participated in public consultation meetings (15 per cent), have attended a protest (14 per cent), joined a political party or campaign (7 per cent) or took legal action against a development or project (5 per cent).

The survey also found that young adults are leading activism in the province.

“Two-thirds of British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (67 per cent) have been involved in some form of activism,” says Mario Canseco, president of Research Co.

“The proportions are lower among their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (48 per cent) and aged 55 and over (41 per cent).”

Passive protests – such as sending letters to politicians or complaining on social media – would be the activism of choice for many B.C. residents if a composting site (20 per cent), a homeless shelter (22 per cent) or a sewage plant (27 per cent) attempted to operate within three blocks of their home.

Active protests, which includes donating to opponents and attending town halls, would be the choice of 24 per cent to deal with a coal terminal and 29 per cent to deal with a nuclear power plant.

Additionally, 30 per cent of people said they would passively (16 per cent) or actively (14 per cent) protest a low-income housing project seeking a permit to open within three blocks of their home.

Meanwhile 58 per cent would take no action.

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