Data released in the latest Statistics Canada census shows an approximate one per cent overall population growth in the Powell River region, primarily due to increases in electoral areas.
Statistics Canada made its first release of 2016 national census data on Wednesday, February 8. The federal government conducts a national census of population every five years.
The information published Wednesday is the first of several releases of data over the next year that will add more detail to the overall picture of the region’s demographics.
Data areas covered include age breakdowns, family compositions, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, level of education attained and household incomes.
According to Statistics Canada data, Powell River region had a population of 19,906 in 2011. That number grew to 20,070 in 2016.
Of those 20,070 people in the region, approximately 66 per cent live in the City of Powell River, however the city saw a net decrease in recent census data. City population dropped by .06 per cent to 13,157 in 2016.
City of Powell River councillor Russell Brewer said the city’s flat population numbers surprised him given the work that has gone into the city’s resident-attraction program.
“I think we are up, so anecdotally it didn’t quite square with what everyone is seeing and hearing,” said Brewer.
Electoral Area A, north of town including Teeshoshum and Lund, received the majority of population increase with an 8.8 per cent jump from 1,008 residents in 2011 to 1,105 in 2016.
Next highest was Electoral Area B, situated next to the city boundaries, with a 3.4 per cent jump, increasing from 1,488 in 2011 to 1,541 last year.
Electoral Area C, which includes Stillwater and Saltery Bay, had a 2.4 per cent increase to bring population numbers up to 2,064.
Electoral Area D, Texada Island, saw a 2.1 per cent increase, while Electoral Area E, Lasqueti Island, had a 6.8 per cent decrease.
Brewer added that he is eager to see next month’s release of the more detailed demographic information, including Powell River resident median age.
“There is a shift we’re seeing, but maybe it’s not in population numbers per se, but maybe a trend down in average age,” he added.
Brewer said the trend of population growth in the electoral areas adjacent to the city, with rural residents accessing city services, will be part of the overall regional cost-sharing conversation.