Issue 17-26: 2016 Census: Highlights from the Population and Dwelling Release

February 8, 2017

Statistics Canada has released the population and dwelling counts from the 2016 Census today. This release spans a wide range of geographies, from Canada, provinces and territories to regional districts and municipalities. Information is also available for land area, population density, population rank and population percentage change from 2011.

The next release is May 3rd, 2017 and will profile census population counts by age and sex.

Population in B.C.

On Census day, May 10th 2016, there were 4,648,055 persons living in B.C. This is a population increase of 5.6% when compared to the 2011 Census (4,400,057 persons). This rate of growth is lower than the 7.0% population growth between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses.

The 2016 Census figures also show that the B.C. population lived in 2,063,417 private dwellings, and that 1,881,969 of these were occupied by their usual residents. This represents an average of 2.25 persons per private dwelling, a figure that has held relatively steady over the past decade.

Population in B.C. Regional Districts

At the B.C. regional district (RD) level, eight out of the 29 regional districts show population growth higher than the overall provincial growth. Stikine Region and Squamish-Lillooet RD were in the lead with double digit population increases (+17.6% and +11.8% respectively) followed by the regional districts of Central Okanagan (+8.4%), Fraser Valley (+6.6%), East Kootenay (+6.6%), Capital (+6.5%), Greater Vancouver (+6.5%) and Nanaimo (+6.2%).

Six regional districts reported a population decline between 2011 and 2016. These include the regional districts of Alberni-Clayoquot (-0.3%), Cariboo (-0.6%), Northern Rockies (-3.3%), Bulkley-Nechako (-3.3%), Skeena-Queen Charlotte (-3.5%) and Mount Waddington (-4.1%).

Population in Development Regions

Population in B.C. Municipalities

At the municipal level, the changes in population between 2011 and 2016 varies widely, ranging from an increase of 66.0% in the Municipality of Sun Peak Mountain to a decline of 26.7% in Tumbler Ridge. However, both of these municipalities are small, with total populations in 2016 of 616 and 1,987 persons, respectively.

The larger municipalities (10,000 or more residents in 2016) show a different picture. The City of Langford leads with a 20.9% growth rate, followed closely by Whistler (+20.7%), and then Squamish (+13.7%), Sooke (+13.7%) and Langley District Municipality (+12.6%).

Prince Rupert, Williams Lake, West Vancouver, Port Alberni and Powell River are the only municipalities (greater than 10,000) that have declined in population since the previous census.

The strong population growth in Langford, Sooke and View Royal contributed to the total population increase in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

The cities of Surrey, Coquitlam, and North Vancouver as well as the District Municipality of Langley gave momentum to the population growth in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).

At the same time, all four municipalities within the Central Okanagan (Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland) show a positive population growth which put the Central Okanagan third on the population growth list.

Population Density in B.C

Population density, a measure of concentration of population within a given geographic area (defined as the number of person per square kilometre) is also presented in this census release. The overall population density in B.C. was approximately 5 persons per square kilometre in 2016.

Municipal population densities in the province range widely from 5,492 persons per square kilometre in the City of Vancouver to 20 persons in Spallumcheen. Given that the geographic boundaries of most municipalities change very little over time, growth in a municipality’s population usually leads to a higher population density.

National Highlights

According to the newly released 2016 Census counts, Canada had a population of 35,151,728 persons, an increase of 1,675,040 persons (or 5.0%) from the 2011 Census. The Canadian population growth has slowed slightly from the 5.9% recorded in the previous census. It was also reported that approximately 14.1 million private dwellings in Canada were occupied by their usual residents in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from 2011.

B.C.’s population growth of 5.6% between 2011 and 2016 was above the national increase of 5.0% but considerably lower than Alberta’s growth of 11.6%.

Our share of the total Canadian population remained about the same at 13.2%.

Data Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2016.

Full B.C. report and detailed data tables available on the BC Stats website.