Population on Vancouver Island grew by over 89,000 people from 2014 to 2021. To put this into perspective, population growth on Vancouver Island resulted in the addition of enough people to populate a city the size of Nanaimo.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Population is a key factor in Vancouver Island’s economic growth. Long known as a destination for retirees, Vancouver Island’s population is relatively older and the number of births is not sufficient to offset the number of deaths each year. Most growth in population has been due to people moving to Vancouver Island from other parts of BC and other parts of Canada. Vancouver Island also attracted 20 percent of international immigrants to BC between 2014 and 2021.
Beginning in 2016 there was a shift in migration trends and an indication that it wasn’t just retirees moving to Vancouver Island. The number of migrants from other provinces was relatively stable between 2014 and 2020, while the percentage over the age of 50 declined from 59 percent to 35 percent.
In 2021 there was a significant increase in the number of migrants from other provinces, which may be related to COVID-19 and increased opportunities for remote work. While migration increased, the percentage of migrants over the age of 50 was unchanged at 35 percent.
Initially most growth was concentrated in the South Island region around Victoria up to Nanaimo, and near Campbell River where major projects were under construction. However, as housing affordability deteriorated in Victoria and Nanaimo people started to migrate to areas in the north and west. Smaller communities such as Tofino have struggled to provide services to their growing populations and housing affordability has become a concern across the region.