Issue 16-16: 2015 Sub-Provincial Population Estimates

Issue 16-16

B.C. Regional Districts

At the provincial level, the B.C. population was an estimated 4,683,139 as of July 1, 2015. The B.C. population grew by 1.0% between July 1st 2014 and June 30th 2015—an increase of almost 45,000 persons.The mainland areas around the Okanagan and Fraser Valley experienced the highest relative growth between 2014 and 2015. The Central Okanagan regional district (+3.2%) showed the strongest growth, followed by the Fraser Valley (+2.2%) and North Okanagan (+1.9%) regional districts.

Map: Population growth by regional district (2014 to 2015)

Population growth by regional district (2014 to 2015) 

In absolute terms, the Greater Vancouver regional district (GVRD) saw the largest increase in population in the twelve months ending June 30th, 2015 (+28,737). In contrast, Skeena-Queen Charlotte (−2.9%) and Stikine (−2.7%) continued to slide, losing a combined 541 persons to other areas during the same reference period. The GVRD has seen growth of 5.9% since 2011.

B.C. Municipalities

The District Municipality of Lake Country (+7.6%) and City of Langford (+7.2%) saw the largest relative increase in population since July 1st, 2014. In absolute terms, Surrey continued to attract the most newcomers between July 1st, 2014 and June 30th, 2015 (+10,366 persons or +2.0%).Other municipalities with more than 5,000 residents that experienced high relative growth during the past year include Kent (+5.3%), West Kelowna (+5.3%), Qualicum Beach (+5.1%).

Among municipalities with populations fewer than 5,000 people, Keremeos reported the highest growth rate from 2014 to 2015 (+5.7% or an addition of 77 persons).

Of the ten largest (100,000+) municipalities in the province, Saanich and Delta showed declines of −0.2% and −0.8% respectively. Amid municipalities with greater than 5,000 persons, Quesnel and Prince Rupert reported the greatest relative declines (−6.2% and −3.8% respectively).

Compared to all municipalities and in terms of rates, Tumbler Ridge saw the largest decline in population between 2014 and 2015 (−9.7% or −284 persons). In absolute terms, Prince George experienced the largest decline (−1,958 or −2.7% persons).

Estimating population for sub-provincial areas

On an annual basis, BC Stats produces sub-provincial population estimates using the Generalized Estimation System (GES). This regression model uses symptomatic indicators such as health client registry and residential hydro hook-ups to gauge population growth from one year to the next. These estimates assist in local and provincial government planning processes.

The coverage of British Columbia’s geographies using GES focuses on 189 areas comprised of 162 municipalities and 27 unique aggregations of unincorporated areas. Most of the province’s residents (almost 9 in every 10 persons) live in municipalities. These sub-provincial population estimates are based on the 2011 Census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage and incompletely enumerated Indian Reserves to which is added the estimated demographic growth for the period from May 10, 2011, to July 1, 2015. Sub-provincial estimates back to 2012 have been revised to reflect the updated B.C. level population estimates released in September 2015. The revised estimates are available on the BC Stats website.