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SURVEY SAYS: Most of us are battling the water hog reputation

A fine of $250 for ignoring water restrictions  is considered appropriate by a small majority of British Columbians (53%) and more than a third (36%) believe it is actually “too low.”

Wheaten terrier dog blends into the brown grass at a Vancouver park July 2015
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: The browning city parks and 'greeways' have created whole new views, like this camouflaged wheaten terrier. Vancouver Observer photo

The Vancouver Observer spotted a man washing his SUV two days ago when another neighbour on her dog walk told him to knock it off or she would call the authorities. Which he did.

About one in five people across the province have spotted someone washing their car during the ban, according to an online survey by Insights West. But apparently even the clueless are getting the message loud and clear, one way or another.

Many British Columbians claim to be acting to conserve water during a period of extreme heat and lack of rain in the province, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 88 per cent of folks with a lawn say they stopped watering it over the past two months, and the aforementioned car-washer was in the small minority, as 86 per cent of those who own a car say they have not washed it.

In addition, 63 per cent of residents claim to be taking shorter showers, a little more than half are relying on their dishwasher less than usual, and just under half the people are operating their washing machine less than usual.

Three-in-10 British Columbians say they have stopped exercising outside due to air quality, with that percentage jumping to 47 in the Fraser Valley, where air quality is typically poorer.

Almost all residents say they support the various levels of water use restrictions that have been enacted in the province. Still, 41% of British Columbians say they have witnessed someone in their neighbourhood watering the lawn, while one-in-four (25%) have seen a person discarding cigarette butts from a car, and one-in-five (20%) have observed someone washing the car—including 34 per cent in the Fraser Valley.

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A fine of $250 for ignoring water restrictions — which is in place in the City of Vancouver — is considered appropriate by a small majority of British Columbians (53%) and more than a third (36%) believe it is actually “too low.”

“While British Columbians appear to be taking steps to reduce their water consumption, they are also reporting that some of their peers have not been particularly careful,” says Mario Canseco, vice-president, of public affairs at Insights West. “In fact, there is a strong appetite across the province to implement larger fines for people who decide to ignore the water restrictions.”

Across the province, 35 per cent of residents rate the job the government of British Columbia is doing in managing our water supply as “very good” or “good.” In contrast, 69 per cent of British Columbians are happy with the way their own municipality handles the water supply, and 53 per cent of Lower Mainland residents also hold positive views on how Metro Vancouver (formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District) is handling the issue.

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