Langford’s astounding population growth wasn’t enough to bring the wider region’s growth in line with that of the province or the country.
On Tuesday, Statistics Canada released the first of many findings from the 2011 Census. Canada boasted a population growth of 5.9 per cent since the last census in 2006; compare that to B.C., at 7.0 per cent, and metropolitan Victoria at 4.4 per cent.
Langford led the region’s growth with an increase of 30 per cent, followed by Sooke, Colwood and View Royal.
Within the core, Victoria led population growth at 2.5 per cent. During the same five-year time frame, Esquimalt led the opposite trend with a population decline of 3.7 per cent.
The results are no surprise, said Jackie Storen, director of demographic analysis with B.C. Stats. “We do monitor population growth on an annual basis.”
The numbers, however, fall well below estimates released after the 2006 Census. At that time, the Capital Regional District predicted an extra 30,000 people by 2011. Only half that growth materialized.
“I never thought Victoria would meet those projections,” said Larry McCann, a professor at the University of Victoria’s department of geography.
“Victoria has always grown very slowly,” he said. “Historically, it just inches along, inches along.”
The economic downtown put a real halt to condominium development, he said. “Part of that growth estimate was more retired people would be moving into the metropolitan area, and that just didn’t happen.”
Victoria’s growth isn’t keeping up to the provincial or national average because the people it does attract are older with smaller households, he said.
“Places like Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon – they’re attracting younger people.”
Storen, however, cautions that Census figures do not provide a perfect estimate of population.
“The census counts don’t take into account all the people that we’ve missed,” she said. In the fall of 2013, Statistics Canada will release new population estimates, to reflect missed or duplicated entries in the Census.
“They’ll be higher,” said Storen. “The overall undercount rate for B.C. in the last Census was 2.9 per cent.”
If applicable to this year’s census, the population of Victoria’s metro area equals approximately 354,600.
By the numbers: population and per cent change
2011 2006 % change
Metro 344,615 330,088 4.4
Langford 29,228 22,459 30.1
Victoria 80,017 78,057 2.5
Saanich 109,752 108,265 1.4
Oak Bay 18,015 17,908 0.6
Esquimalt 16,209 16,840 -3.7