The first swathe of information from the 2016 Canadian census has been released; and while the numbers show that many urban centres across the country have gained in population—sometimes massively—since the 2011 census, those gains have largely come at the expense of rural communities.
In the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the largest centre—Kamloops—grew by 5.4 per cent, from 85,678 to 90,280; an increase of 4,602. However, the population of the TNRD as a whole grew by only 3.3 per cent, from 128,471 to 132.663; an overall increase of 4,192 people.
Most of the smaller communities throughout the TNRD showed only modest gains in population, or losses. Ashcroft went from 1,628 to 1,558; Cache Creek went from 1,040 to 963; and Logan Lake went from a population of 2,073 to 1,993. Communities showing slight gains include Clinton (636 to 641); Lytton (228 to 249); and Merritt (7,113 to 7,139). Of the other four municipalities in the TNRD, Barriere, Chase, and Clearwater all lost ground; only Sun Peaks showed an increase in population, going from 371 to 616.
Provincially, British Columbia’s population increased by 5.6 per cent, with 4,648,055 people now living here. Nationally, Canada’s population now stands at 35,151,728, an increase of 5 per cent since 2011, when our population was 33,476,688. The bulk of that growth is attributed to immigrants, as Canada experiences the double-whammy of a larger aging population at one end of the spectrum, and younger families opting for no children, or fewer children than in the past, at the other end.
For the first time since the census began in 1851, the three Prairie provinces are at the top of the growth chart, with B.C. in fourth place. Nearly one in three Canadian residents now live in the four western provinces, and the country remains the fastest-growing of the G7 group of industrial nations; a position it has held for 15 years. Two-thirds of all Canadians now live in urban, rather than rural, communities.
Six of B.C.’s 29 regional districts—all of them resource regions, and most in the north—shrank in size. Andrew Ramlo, executive director of Urban Futures, says that this can be attributed to higher and lower job numbers.
“We saw the most employment growth in the Lower Mainland, Victoria, and the Okanagan area,” he notes. Declining employment in rural regions pushes out mid-career workers, while increased jobs and education opportunities in the metropolitan areas pulls in younger workers.
Ramlo says there is a continuing trend of larger metropolitan areas growing faster than the rest of the province. “If you lump the two major metropolitan areas—Greater Vancouver and the Capital District—together, those two regions alone accounted for about 70 per cent of B.C.’s population growth.”
With files from Katya Slepian/Black Press