The North Shore News just reported on a release from BC Stats of its annual population change estimates.  No surprise here: “the North Shore continues to lag behind other Lower Mainland municipalities when it comes to population growth.”

District of West Vancouver’s population: up by 228 or people 0.5 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

District of North Vancouver: up 78 people, a growth rate of 0.1 per cent.

(No. 1 complaint on the North Shore: the intolerable growth in traffic congestion.  Gee, what could have caused that?)

But here is the surprise:

Five Metro municipalities posted a net loss, the starkest of which was Pitt Meadows, which saw its population contract by 0.8 per cent. The District of Squamish, however, led all of B.C. in shedding citizens with 2.9 per cent drop, year over year.

Squamish?  The place where a headline is, typically, “Squamish attracts new population and hip businesses, along with growing pains“. Maybe that’s the difference between a city and district.  But an outer suburb like Pitt Meadows?

What’s going on here?



  1. It’s hard to say what may, or may not be happening in Squamish, but it’s a reasonable bet that the numbers aren’t necessarily accurate. Apparently BC Stats have adjusted their methodology of estimating population each year, so it’s difficult to know why the numbers you mention have resulted. It’s worth noting that BC Stats estimates get revisited every year. For example, their population estimate published two years ago for Vancouver was 651,619 in 2016 and 656,164 in 2017. Now they say there were 664,156 in 2016 and 668,655 in 2017, so they’ve added 13,000 people between the two sets of estimates.

    In the past, on a number of occasions, the further away we get from a census, the less accurate the estimates have been. The new census data for 2021 will either confirm their estimate was right, or they’ll recalibrate (and publish quite different numbers for 2017 based on the new knowledge from the new census). In my experience they’re pretty good at getting the Provincial estimate right, not bad at estimating the regional total, and not so good at allocating that growth (or fall) to individual municipalities.

  2. Notwithstanding the comment by Changing City and assuming the data are accurate, I’d begin to wonder if some suburbs are experiencing more empty bedrooms. All Metro Vancouver municipalities are experiencing loads of development, most of it 1 and 2br strata units. More empty nests as the kids leave home! Just speculation.

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