2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study: Urban-dwellers
ill-prepared for impact of Mother Nature on water
Urban sprawl and paved paradise threaten clean fresh water
today and tomorrow, says leading expert
TORONTO, March 14, 2013 - While nine-in-10
(90 per cent) Canadians believe that an extreme weather-related
disaster is possible in their community, town or city, few
are aware of the consequences if excess water caused by rain
and snow storms is not managed properly. In towns and cities
across Canada, paved surfaces, overloaded storm water management
infrastructure and extreme weather conditions dramatically
increase the challenge of managing excess water caused by
"Extreme storms have a direct impact on water, as storm
water runoff can drag contaminants into local waterways and
pollute water bodies that are important for recreation and
water supplies," says Bob Sandford, chair of Canadian
Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade. "All
the impermeable surfaces in cities create the ideal condition
for excess water to overwhelm our already strained municipal
storm water systems. Municipalities, property developers and
homeowners must work together to better manage storm water."
Ahead of World Water Day on March 22, the sixth annual 2013
RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, commissioned by the RBC
Blue Water Project and administered by GlobeScan, found that
while two-thirds of Canadians (68 per cent) say that we should
be prepared for the possibility of a major disaster that affects
storm water management systems, only one-in-five (19 per cent)
believe that major actions are required now.
What are Canadians willing to do to help?
This is not just a municipal planning issue. Sandford says
that individual Canadians could be doing their part to manage
excess water from rain and snowstorms around their homes now.
Yet, according to the study, few Canadians have taken preventive
measures such as landscaping with grading (23 per cent) or
replacing paved surfaces with water-permeable materials such
as interlocking stone or gravel (seven per cent).
Paved and impermeable surfaces are part of the problem. Half
(47 per cent) of Canadians say their 'ideal' house has a paved
driveway or yard - and the majority of these wouldn't change
this preference even when told about the positive impact of
permeable surfaces, which allow rainwater and melted snow
to seep slowly into the ground rather than causing polluted
runoff. Only one-in-ten (12 per cent) Canadians indicated
that they would replace paved surfaces with water-permeable
materials such as interlocking stone.
"Canadians continue to have a love affair with paved
driveways, and there's a serious trickle-down effect. With
impermeable sidewalks, roadways and parking lots added to
the mix, we've actually created the ideal condition for excess
water to overwhelm our already strained municipal water and
storm water systems," says Sandford.
According to the study, most Canadians say that they plan
to take measures to help prevent water damage in and around
their home in the coming year such as maintaining eavestroughs
and downspouts (64 per cent) and adding landscaping such as
grading (33 per cent).
"In most cities across Canada, infrastructure is crumbling
and in urgent need of replacement or repair. It's time for
a wake-up call," says Sandford. The Federation of Canadian
Municipalities estimates cost of replacement for drinking
water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure reported
to be in 'fair' or 'very poor' condition to be approximately
A large majority of Canadians (78 per cent) continue to trust
that their municipal water infrastructure is in good condition
and don't see a need for major investments. Despite this confidence,
just 15 per cent of Canadians admit to being 'very aware'
of the condition of their municipal water infrastructure.
Additionally, an overwhelming number of Canadians (80 per
cent) are not willing to pay for necessary storm water management
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY
Canada's most important natural resource
- Forty-seven per cent believe fresh water is Canada's most
important natural resource, down from 55 per cent in 2012.
- Sixteen per cent say agricultural land is most important.
- Fifteen per cent believe oil is Canada's most important,
except in Alberta, where 41 per cent thought oil was most
Water conservation behaviours
- Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians are trying reasonably
hard to conserve water, slightly down from 71 per cent in
- One-in-10 Canadians use an automated sprinkler system.
- Thirty per cent of Canadian homeowners use rain barrels
or other devices to collect rainwater runoff.
- Fifty-four per cent of Canadians have paved driveways.
- Forty-seven per cent say their ideal house has a paved
- Sixty per cent of 18-34 year olds would give up a paved
driveway to help water management.
- Only 24 per cent of urban dwellers have unpaved or water
About the 2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes
The 2013 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study included an online
survey administered by GlobeScan between January 23 and February
11, 2013. It included a sample of 2,282 Canadian adults from
GMI's Canadian panel. Weighting was employed to balance demographics,
to ensure the sample's composition reflects the adult population
according to Canadian Census data and to provide results intended
to approximate the sample universe. Results were weighted
by gender, age, region, and community size. The sample included
a minimum of 200 respondents in each of Vancouver, Calgary,
and Montreal, and 300 in Toronto. The margin of error for
a strict probability sample for as sample of this size (n=2,282)
would be ±2.
About RBC Blue Water Project
The RBC Blue Water Project is an historic, wide-ranging, 10-year
global commitment to help protect the world's most precious
natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged
over $36 million to more than 500 charitable organizations
worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean
drinking water, with an additional $6 million pledged to universities
for water programs. In 2013-2014, the RBC Blue Water Project
will focus on supporting initiatives that help protect water
in towns, cities and urbanized areas. For further information,
About RBC Community and Sustainability
Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries
operate under the master brand name RBC. We employ approximately
80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 15
million personal, business, public sector and institutional
clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 49 other countries.
RBC is recognized among the world's financial, social and
environmental leaders and is listed on the 2012 - 2013 Dow
Jones Sustainability World Index, the DJSI North American
Index, the Jantzi Social Index and the FTSE4Good Index. RBC
is one of Canada's Greenest Employers, one of Canada's 50
Most Socially Responsible Corporations and among the Global
100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.
RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through
donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities.
In 2012, we contributed more than $95 million to causes worldwide,
including donations and community investments of more than
$64 million and $31 million in sponsorships.
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