There is an overall decline in Waterloo Region residents' sense of community belonging, fewer arts and culture jobs and fewer people donating charitably, according to the 2013 Waterloo Region Vital Signs report.

The report was authored by the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) and is intended to serve as a barometer of quality of life in the region.

"We continue to be very concerned about our sense of belonging and leadership as a community, our arts and culture stats, what's happening with health and wellness, and that whole area of getting started in our community continue to be primary areas of focus," Chief Executive Officer of the KWCF Rosemary Smith told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.

"Since 2003, the overall trend in those  feeling a somewhat strong or very strong sense  of community belonging has been in decline. These  feelings are especially low amongst those aged 20 to 34 years old," the report says.

The findings of the report are based on data taken from Statistics Canada, the Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

"Plus, we think this year we need to have a richer conversation around transportation and what it means to our community," Smith said.

Five per cent of Waterloo Region residents commute to work using public transit, while the provincial average is 14 per cent, the report said. 

Smith said the annual KWCF report is intended to spark conversation.

"It's that richness of conversation that really helps us take action."

Listed below are some of the key findings of the report:

  • In 2011, almost 9,000 people were employed in the fields of arts, culture, recreation and sports. In 2012, that declined to just over than 6,000.
  • The proportion of Waterloo Region tax filers who make charitable donations has been declining at a faster rate than the national and provincial averages.
  • The gap between the rich and poor is growing, with Waterloo Region's top 50 per cent of tax filers earning a median of more than $50,000 annually. The bottom 50 per cent earned a median income of $14,100. Those numbers are largely in line with provincial and national benchmarks.